River artist Chris Haggerty wants to improve your life and outlook through river art. “Have you ever wished you didn’t need to leave the river?” he asks. “What if you could bring it home with you? Those were feelings I had, too, every time I visited the Maury River in Virginia. When I was in the Navy, my wife and I would spend time off watching the Maury run by. The whitewater was mesmerizing. But after the Navy, I no longer had that, and I fell into a dark place mentally. So, I started creating art, and it quite literally saved me from myself. Creating these river pieces takes me back to relaxing on the bank of the Maury River, and I want to bring that feeling to your home.”
We caught up with Haggerty to dive a little deeper into his artwork and the healing power of rivers…even if they’re just on your wall
Paddling Life: How has river art strengthened your mental state?
Haggerty: When I was in the Navy, we lived in Virginia. In the little time I had off, my wife and I would escape to the Blue Ridge Mountains where we discovered the Maury River. Just outside Lexington, VA there is a windy road through a mountain gorge called Goshen Pass. We found a spot to pull over and it instantly became our spot to escape everything. After the Navy, I landed a six-figure job in New York with the power company, which became all-consuming. I no longer had time to get out in nature, and I fell into a dark place mentally. I believe God inspired me to start creating my art, and the dark place I was in vanished completely. My art saved me from myself. I didn’t know how to make it work, but I knew it’s what I needed to be doing. So I left my job and we moved down to Greenville, South Carolina, to be closer to rivers and nature.
Paddling Life: Why rivers?
Haggerty: For over a decade, rivers have been the place where my family and I are drawn to, whether it be for relaxation or inspiration. I have so many memories involving rivers: Rafting down the Delaware river as a kid, camping on my father’s upstate NY property next to a Basher Kill, spending hours watching the Maury River in VA, watching my kids play and swim in the Nantahala River in NC, the list really goes on. But rivers are where we always go – in both good times and difficult times. It’s not art. It’s a river.
Paddling Life: How do you get inspired by them?
Haggerty: Rivers are a fascinating part of nature, carving deep into the earth in its path. Regardless of what gets in a river’s way, it always finds a way to power through, over, or around. For me, rivers bring hope during challenging times, and can remind us of how far we’ve come when we need the inspiration and drive to keep moving forward. Plus, there’s really nothing more relaxing than the sight and sound of a river rushing by.
Paddling Life: What are some of your favorite rivers?
Haggerty: The three rivers which hold a special place in my heart are the Maury River in Virginia where I’ve spent countless hours with my wife, the Nantahala River in NC where my kids love to go swimming in after riding the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad, and Basher Kill in NY where my father had property.
Paddling Life: Are you a paddler also?
Haggerty: I loved rafting with the Boy Scouts and with my father when I was young, but due to a back condition it’s no longer something I can safely participate in. But I love rivers.