At age 80, Betty Korba began transitioning to a raw food diet by joining the inaugural 30-Day Raw Challenge at Arnold’s Way after going vegan just two months earlier. She’s become a frequent face in the Lansdale, Pennsylvania, raw food café’s community. Last year, the effervescent and omniscient Towamencin Township, Pennsylvania, resident gave away several large bowls and other sculptures she crafted as part of a course at a local community college.
Now 83, Betty has created several dozen visually striking, ornate sea creature sculptures in recent semesters. Donning deep green and rustic red glazings, among other wide-ranging earthy colors, Betty’s memorable works bear the imprint of an artist who’s enjoying a creative peak. “I think they’re very beautiful,” said Betty, who has even accented some of these wonderful sea creature sculptures, strewn throughout the downstairs level of her warm and inviting home, with traces of gold, silver, bronze and copper.
As Betty has blossomed on a low-fat raw food diet, enjoying brightly colored smoothies and vegetable-rich salads, she’s discovered renewed energy and stamina. This natural fuel helped propel her to produce more than 20 sculptures last semester alone.
“I can work steadily for a long time without getting tired,” she said. “Now, my recovery time is very fast.”
Betty’s experienced other benefits on a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. “As far as being high, that’s a natural thing that comes with eating vegetables and fruit. I also feel a deeper connection to all that is growing and alive. I feel more alive.”
Betty’s creative juices for her sea creature sculpture series started flowing when making a connection to another creature. She was simply awestruck over the immaculate beauty of seashells.
“I was thinking about how beautifully they’re formed,” she said. “I’m not trying to duplicate any shape or form or to make a form that looks exactly like a shell or sea creature. It’s just the feeling that I have by looking at these shells or looking at a picture on television of sea life.”
Originally from Connecticut, Betty moved to Pennsylvania in 1976 when her husband landed a teaching position at Villanova University, outside Philadelphia. Betty graduated from Montgomery County Community College in 1978 with a associate’s degree in fine art. She’s returned to campus since the late 1990s for art courses as part of the college’s continuing-education program.
Betty is mostly self-taught as an artist. “I don’t really think too much about what I’m doing,” she said. “It’s just ‘whatever happens.’ I’m not a perfectionist in that area. … As far as mistakes are concerned, I don’t think anything’s a mistake. Everything turns into a form of some kind.”
Betty instinctively feels when a piece is completed but said she sometimes questions her stopping points. “I always know, ‘This is it. I don’t need to do anything else,'” she said. “And then I think to myself afterward: ‘Boy, I should’ve brought that to a new level. Why did I stop at that point?’ This is a process, a learning process, and in the next piece, I can look for that point to bring it to a new level.”
View a Gallery of Betty Korba’s Artwork
In addition to her art prowess, Betty has been carving out gains in exercise. She completes 10 “solid” push-ups each morning and 10 more each evening along with dozens of variations on push-ups throughout the day. She’s also doing sit-ups and arm-strengthening exercises, including lifting 20-pound bags of clay. “I’m sitting up straighter now,” said Betty, who, at one time, practiced and taught yoga. “I’m not slouching.”
Most folks Betty’s age are in sordid physical condition. Betty has rejuvenated herself in the past three years, and she’s a firm believer in “reinventing” herself.
Three years ago, when her raw food journey began, Betty took a vision board class at Arnold’s Way put on by Anna Chmielewska, who worked side by side with owner Arnold Kauffman during the first 30-Day Raw Challenge. Her board centered on her spirituality, people and raw fruits and vegetables. Recently, she took another vision board class, this one led by Deanna Husk, who has displayed Betty’s 2012 vision board as a model.
Betty said: “I realized I didn’t have to create another vision board because I’m still in that vision I had three years ago.”