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Reflection, Response and Transformation: NeoRio 2020

July 10, 2020

From the archives: First NeoRio Event, Evening around the Campfire, 2009

An update from Claire Coté

Everyone and everything is shifting. Haltings we did not think possible have occurred. Countless closures and migrations to online platforms are taking place. We are all affected.

As the director of LEAP (Land, Experience and Art of Place) and curator of its NeoRio event, I am faced with the challenge of reinventing this multi-faceted, outdoor environmental art event and adapting it to present circumstances.  

NeoRio* is a venue for innovative art, experimental thinking, education and exchange. For the past eleven years, artists, participants and collaborators have enjoyed thought-provoking art installations at Wild Rivers on the rim of the Rio Grande gorge, along with a farm-to-table feast, music, poetry and artist talks at sunset. Each year, we’ve tried to create a kind of alchemy with this confluence of art, environment, community, and celebration of each year’s fascinating theme. Now things must change.

We are in the process of rethinking and evolving the event, developing new and deepening existing collaborations, while also holding true to the core values of the event: connection to each other, land, water, culture, and place.

As this process of reinvention unfolds, I find the journey guided by curiosity. Questions are surfacing, some of them general, and applicable to much of life now: What opportunities are present in this time of uncertainty and how can we cultivate them? How do we remain strong, present and healthy and allow this challenging time to propel growth and positive change? How can we experience community and connection without being physically together? 

Others are very specific to the NeoRio event: No outdoor venue? No in-person art installations? No community feast? How can NeoRio best serve people and place?

Each year, NeoRio features a different theme. Themes of past years have included Wilderness, Light, Seeds, Pollination, Roots, Elements and more. Selecting each year’s theme is a challenging, but also rich and interesting process.The theme for NeoRio this year was decided in February but it’s deeper relevance and timeliness became apparent a month later, as New Mexico and much of the United States and the world began to shut down and many of us began to “shelter in place.” The theme for NeoRio 2020 is “Home.” 

I don’t know what the future has in store for us. I do know that “leaning into” the challenges we’re facing is the right thing to do. 

As September 19, the original event date approaches, look for updates about how to participate in NeoRio 2020: Home. We want you to be a part of it!

Have ideas? Want to know more or make a donation? Follow updates HERE or give me a call 575-224-9066!

*NeoRio began in partnership with Bureau of Land Management’s Taos Field Office, as a public lands day event and has evolved in collaboration with local nonprofits, Localogy and Questa Creative Council. It is the result of many collaborations with a variety of artists, mentors, organizations and many generous volunteers, funders and sponsors.

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