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Debbie Bentley: Dammed

Posted on May 03, 2024 - By Daylight Books
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Debbie Bentley: Dammed
Debbie Bentley: Dammed

Birth to Death of the Colorado River

''While the Colorado River may be the poster child for poor water-management practices, overuse, and the effects of aridification, it is hardly the only river at risk in the US, and indeed the world. Sustainability is key.'' — Debbie Bentley

The main stem of the Colorado River flows from the Colorado Rocky Mountains to the Mexico border. And while it provides water for almost 40 million people and irrigates 5.5 million acres of farmland throughout the American West, it is also one of the most over-allocated, highly controlled, and endangered rivers. Through extensive research of the historical as well as current day contextual factors and implications, photographer Debbie Bentley presents a comprehensive documentation of the river, its 16 dams, the reservoirs, and people in its path in her new book, Dammed: Birth to Death of the Colorado River (Daylight Books).

For the Dammed project, Bentley follows the 1,450 miles of the river's main stem and through her photographs, infographics, and historical background, she presents a project that invites readers to gain knowledge on the reverberations of climate change and overallocation of the Colorado River basin. Her insightful writing interspersed throughout the book sections, provides depth on the geography, historical decisions on diversion and allocation, and current day realities.

In the book's Introduction, Bentley discusses the way she conceptualized using the visual reference of photographs combined with background information and data to invite viewer engagement. She writes that most people do not have an extensive knowledge base on the source of their drinking water, or irrigation necessary to grow the food they eat, or the relationship between electricity and dams, nor the potential risks with increasing water scarcity. This book is a vehicle to contribute to the conversation around such issues.

She explains: ''This project sought to provide that visual connection so often lacking—a view of the entire interconnected and complex system to further understanding—coupled with background information to raise awareness.''


Debbie Bentley

Glen Canyon Dam © Debbie Bentley



Debbie Bentley

Closed Boulder, Harbor, 2021 © Debbie Bentley



Debbie Bentley

Closed Boulder Harbor, 2022 © Debbie Bentley


Debbie Bentley is a photographer and multi-disciplinary artist from Denver, Colorado. Her work focuses primarily on the documentation of places and environments, their connection to the internal parts of people, and the need as an artist to see and record this connectivity.

Linda Connor's peripatetic practice demonstrates a longstanding interest in the relationship between systems of belief and the natural world, and has seen her photographing wide-ranging subjects, from sacred sites and intricately jagged cliff faces, to antique plate-glass negatives from San Jose’s Lick Observatory and petrified bodies from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in Pompeii.

About Daylight Books:
Founded in 2003, Daylight seeks out emerging and mid-career photographic artists and showcases them to a global audience via both print and digital publishing programs. By exploring the documentary mode alongside conceptual photographic work, Daylight raises awareness about important issues of the day while revitalizing the relationship between art, photography, and the world at large.


Debbie Bentley

Morelos Dam, Arizona and Mexico © Debbie Bentley



Debbie Bentley

Impounded Colorado River behind imperial Dam © Debbie Bentley


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