Betsy McCall

Embrace the Territory
(35″x35″; gouache on paper; 2018)

Betsy McCall
Springfield, Vermont


Practice. Studio practice. Contemplative practice. The dedication and rigorous rhythms demanded by both disciplines inspire my work, which explores repetition, breath, and liquid movement as a space of transformation.

In 2007, I moved to Italy to lay the foundation for a monumental life-as-artwork: the Art Monastery. The vision of the project is to establish a community of contemplative artists that applies the collaborative and intentional “social sculpture” of monastic life to artmaking. In 2016, the Art Monastery made the transition to the US and today the Art Monastery is located on the Connecticut River in Vermont.

My time dedicated to the Art Monastery has affirmed the daily link between meditation and studio art-making practices. Practice is a commitment, repetitive and prolonged, a disciplined and sustained effort that yields perspectives that are undiscoverable any other way. Regardless of the stated goal, practice in itself reshapes the practitioner over time, whether gradually or through bursts of inspiration and insight. By engaging the repetitive rhythms of practice, my work also aims to reshape my life as an artist.

I begin my studio sessions by lighting a candle and offering incense, invoking the muse, the divine mother, and Kwan Yin. I work intuitively, in connection with my breath. Each line, drawn with tiny paintbrushes or fine-point pens, is made in intimate relationship with the breath. Many of my titles come from the Buddhist sutras that I sometimes chant before I begin my markmaking.


Betsy McCall, garnering degrees from Yale University and San Francisco Art Institute, brings her experience as a longtime meditator, visual artist, competitive synchronized swimmer, and founder of the Art Monastery to inform her social sculpture and visual art.

In 2008, she founded the Art Monastery, an international arts organization dedicated to applying the collaborative and intentional “social sculpture” of monastic life to art-making and creativity. For the last decade, Betsy has been designing and facilitating immersive experiences that employ silence, meditation, and reflection on the inner & outer worlds. In order to fan the creative flame of participants, she draws on eastern & western monastic philosophies, shamanic practices, and the exuberance of her own heartfire.

As a visual artist, Betsy’s meditative “breath portrait” paintings, large-scale pattern-based works on paper, have been exhibited from San Francisco and New York to Amsterdam and Rome. In 2013, she co-founded the International Partnership for Transformative Learning and published a book, Hosting Transformation: Stories from the Edge of Changemaking. In 2015, she published the workbook, Live Your Dream: Start Here. Start Now., which is printed in English, Italian, Polish, German, and Arabic. From 2014 to 2018, Betsy split her time between Green Gulch Farm/Green Dragon Zen Temple and Art Monastery Vermont. She currently lives at Art Monastery Vermont in Springfield full time.


(646) 270-4456
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Embrace the Territory (detail)
(35″x35″; gouache on paper; 2018)

Filling a Silver Bowl with Snow
(15″x15″; ink on paper; 2018)

Arrowpoints Meet Head On
(18″x13″; ink on paper; 2018)

Front and Back Foot in Walking (diptych)
(10.5″x22″; ink on paper; 2018)