I first met Bettie Ringma on the National Mall in Washington D.C. when I was having people participate in one of my conceptual art projects. Bettie had recently separated from her husband, a diplomat from Holland, and was studying art therapy at George Washington University. My participatory art rooted in the exploration of people and their lives meshed perfectly with all her interests. We quickly became friends and soon began working together as partners in the creation of new art projects.
With Bettie adding her knowledge of art and psychology, her photography skills, and her winning social ways to the conceptual base that I had initially developed, things moved quickly. It was the beginning of a productive eight year period that would lead us in many new creative directions. Much of our collaborative work can be seen in the website sections that follow.
My partnership with Bettie ended around 1982. Although we moved in very different directions our earlier collaborative work often brought us back together. In 2018, the Polaroid portraits we made in Amsterdam bars in 1980 were exhibited in Holland and purchased by Gemeentearchief Amsterdam. Bettie had been ill but attended the exhibition opening. She died just a few weeks later.
Meeting Bettie, Washington D.C. - 1974
Bettie Ringma played an important role in my life, and it is amazing that the photograph of her below was taken at the exact moment we met in 1974 at an arts and crafts fair on the Washington Mall. I was asking people visiting the fair to select something that they particularly liked and add a written comment. Bettie chose a handcrafted necklace, and perhaps prophetically wrote “a chain of things that happen in life – are entangled.”
Portrait of bettie - Washington D.C. and New York City, 1974-75
A Photo-Written-Word Portrait by Marc H Miller