Shaped by Water

In 2001, the Kentucky Foundation for Women awarded an “Arts Meets Activism” grant to four women artists/activists working with the Kentucky RIVERKEEPER, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization in residence at Eastern Kentucky University’s Center for Appalachian Studies. The planning grant was designed to promote arts activism within eastern Kentucky schools and communities and devise a funding strategy to give the project legs. The long-term goal was to establish an annual River Festival as an art/environmental event with feminist leadership. Co-directors of this project included Judy Sizemore (Circuit Rider for the Kentucky Arts Council), Pat Banks (artist-educator), Joanne Guifoil (Professor of Art Education, Eastern Kentucky University), and Gabrielle Beazely (independent videographer/photographer).

Poem by Louan Christensen


The purpose of this ongoing program has been to promote watershed awareness and cultural heritage education through arts experiences. Led by Kentucky Riverkeeper Pat Banks, various teams of environmentally active artists/educators have provided workshops/retreats for artists, educators and activists Kentucky River watershed communities.  An annual exhibit and reception is held at Richmond’s Gallery on Main. 

The goals of the projects in this program are to:

  • Recognize rural women as leaders and guardians of their community watersheds.
  • Inspire more rural women to use their creativity as environmental activists.
  • Develop a network of rural women artists and leaders who will promote watershed awareness.
  • Reconnect rural women with cultural heritage in the rivers and creeks as they work toward watershed restoration and preservation.


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