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NeoRio 2014: Thinking Wilderness

Neorio2014PostcardFront-webGet directions and google map here.

NeoRio 2014: September 6th
Join us at the Wild Rivers Visitor Center in the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument at 3 pm for an artist lecture, and “wild tea” with Team Biocultura and their multi-media “T” House project.  Then at 6 pm, an evening celebration on the rim of the gorge at Montoso Campground with the Rio Feast Project by Ric Lum, music by High Desert Acoustic Duo and a campfire-side poetry reading by Erin Bad Hand.

This year, NeoRio is joining in the nationwide celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. Part of LEAP’s Thinking Wilderness project, NeoRio is the launch event for LEAP’s  “Wilderness Thinkers in Residence” project, with this year’s NeoRio Featured Artists, Andrea Polli and John Donalds  as the first Featured Thinkers in Residence. Working as ” Team Biocultura,” Andrea and John will present their new project, the “‘T’ House.”NeoRio2014Image

logo_with_teapotThe “T” House
Inspired by a traditional teahouse, The ‘T’ House provides a physical, virtual and radio ‘platform’ for the performance, discussion and experience of the complex symbiotic relationships of humans and plants in and around the protected lands of Questa, New Mexico and beyond. Team Biocultura artists will give an artists’ lecture and then invite the audience to “take tea”, mix their own blends from wild crafted plants and explore the multi-media ‘T’ House.

Team BioCultura
In response to the pervasive integration of digital and biological technologies within the fabric of many global cultures and the social and environmental implications of these technologies, the artist/architectural designer team BioCultura combines public art, architecture and networked media to create interventions, events, objects, publications, multi- functional built spaces and other artworks focused on social transformation. As an interdisciplinary pair of practitioners, BioCultura has collective and individual experience collaborating with scientists, engineers, community organizations and museums and other artists in large and small groups.

bat-sounds03Andrea Polli
Andrea Polli is an artist and scholar working at the intersection of art, science and technology whose practice includes public media performance andinstallation, interventions, curating, directing and writing. She is an Associate Professor in Art & Ecology with a joint appointment between Fine Arts and Engineering, holds the Mesa Del Sol Endowed Chair of Digital Media, and is the Director of the Social Media Workgroup at The University of New Mexico. She earned a doctorate in practice-led art from the University of Plymouth in the UK and a Master of Fine Arts in Time Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Polli has been creating media and technology artworks related to environmental science issues since 1999, when she first began collaborating with atmospheric scientists on sound and data sonification projects. Among other organizations, she has worked with the NASA/Goddard Institute Climate Research Group and the National Center for Atmospheric Research and her artwork and research has been funded by The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), The National Science Foundation (NSF) and Fulbright including two over $1.5 million projects: the NEA-supported ISEA2012: Machine Wilderness throughout New Mexico and the Southwest and the 5-year NSF-funded SEPTET project.

Polli’s work with art/science, technology has been presented widely in over one hundred presentations, exhibitions and performances internationally including the Whitney Museum of American Art Artport and The Field Museum of Natural History, and has been recognized by numerous grants, residencies and awards including NYFA, Fulbright and UNESCO. Her work has been reviewed by the Los Angeles Times, Art in America, Art News, NY Arts and others. She has published several audio CDs, DVDs two book chapters and many papers with MIT Press, Cambridge University Press and others. Her latest book is Far Field: Digital Culture, Climate Change and the Poles published by Intellect Press.

John-DonlandsJohn Donalds
Born and raised in Southern California, architectural design collaborator John Donalds’ work combines media and architectural theory and practice by designing fantastical spaces that mix futuristic materials and forms with traditional, buildable structures. A practicing digital media artist, in 2000 he had the opportunity to lead the design of high-end networked photography and video laboratory spaces at Oberlin College. During this process, he discovered a passion for architectural practice and returned to school to pursue a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Syracuse where he combined his professional background in video and photography with his ideas for reframing physical and virtual space in his 2013 project Network Home.

As a collaborator, Donalds has produced significant bodies of work with photographer Julie Holcombe and sculptor Bill Gilbert. In 2010, he was project manager for a series of portals for DestinyUSA, the largest Leed Gold Certified commercial building in the US at the time. He recently collaborated with landscape architect Catherine Harris and photographer Meridel Rubenstein to produce a model of a human wastewater garden planned for Iraq’s first national park at the conflux of the Tigres and Euphrates. This project, Eden Again, was featured in The 2012 International Symposium for Electronic Art in Albuquerque.

RioFeastWebThe Rio Feast Project

A multi-year undertaking, The Rio Feast Project consists of a series of community dinners developed from food foraged and prepared in the region around the Rio Grande River. Starting at the headwaters in the Sangre de Cristo and San Juan Mountains of Southern Colorado and continuing through New Mexico, Texas, and Mexico, dinners will be sited along the river. The artist’s journey is an extended performance entailing gathering, cooking, and serving wild, farmed, ranched, hunted, and wild-crafted food. In some ways, the dinners themselves are not “art” but the culmination or symbols of the network of connections and associations that form when people make a commitment to “walking the land” and becoming intimately acquainted with regional foodways.

Through blog entries accessible at a website, Lum will share cooking methods, recipes, ingredients, and stories that arise along the way. A locally hosted dinner will be featured at NeoRio 2014 and this culinary intervention will bring the spirit of this project to the communities of Questa and Northern Taos County, and become sites for further exchange. Lum hopes to connect a diverse group through eating, sharing, and dialogue: farmers, ranchers, historians, artists, activists, and scientists. Through this experiment, Lum also seeks to bring attention to important issues that affect the region, such as water and land conservation, and highlight the diverse communities, cultures, and histories that inhabit this land.

erinNeoRio 2014 Featured Writer: Erin Bad Hand

Poet Erin Bad Hand, Lakota and Eastern Cherokee, deals with issues of multi-cultural identity in her poetry. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in May of 2006. Since then, she has worked with and for not-for-profit organizations in Taos, New Mexico and has taught  introductory creative writing courses at UNM-Taos. Erin’s published poems include “Could You Be The Perfect Wife?” Chokecherries, A Society of the Muse of the Southwest Anthology, 1997, “Mother Land,” The Sister Fund Newsletter, Sister Fund Foundation, 2001, and others, as well as a short essay, Much More Than Teepees or Totem Poles, Fnews Magazine, SAIC, 2005 and a chapbook published by the Hulbert Center Press of Colorado College titled And Then Everyone Can Rest…., 2002. She is also a Northern Traditional Dancer, a singer with Heartbeat Drum, and a self-proclaimed foodie.

justindean2High Desert Acoustic Duo

Acoustic, alternative folk and Celtic fusion styles blend in original songs and up-beat interpretations of traditional Celtic and Americana tunes. Simply magic around the campfire!






NeoRio 2014  Marks 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act

For Immediate Release

Claire Coté: 575-586-2362,


Date: Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014
What: NeoRio 2014: Thinking Wilderness
Where: Wild Rivers, Rio Grande del Norte National Monument (near Questa)
Event Cost: FREE – donations appreciated, camping $7/night
Contact:, or 575-586-2362

LEAP’s Sixth Annual NeoRio art event is part of the nationwide celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act and is the culminating event in Questa’s “Thinking Wilderness” series.

NeoRio – confluence of art and environments, is set to take place on Saturday, September 6, at Wild Rivers in the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, accessed on County Road 378, just north of Questa.


NeoRio is organized by LEAP (Land, Experience and Art of Place, a program of Localogy) in collaboration with other organizations. In the words of LEAP Director, Claire Coté, “Wild Rivers is an unlikely place to find contemporary art. NeoRio is about creating opportunities for innovative artists to interface with and celebrate our rural communities, rivers and wild lands. This year we have two really interesting projects which offer inventive and delicious ways to engage with local ecology while at the same time touching on important land and water issues.”

Starting at 3 pm at Wild Rivers Visitor Center, take in a dynamic artist lecture and experience the ‘T’ House’ by NeoRio featured artists, Andrea Polli and John Donalds (Team Biocultura). Inspired by a traditional teahouse, the ‘T’ House project explores relationships between humans and wild plants gathered from the protected lands in and around Questa. Team Biocultura invites you to their multi-media ‘T’ House to make and sample your own “wild tea” in cups and tea bowls crafted by Questa’s local clay artists including Kathy Morsell and Sandra Harrington.


“We couldn’t have dreamed that researching tea would take us to the Netherlands, the Midwestern US and now back to New Mexico for NeoRio. Every strand of research seems to lead us to a more complex thread of connections between our own bodies, tea and the world around us,” observes Andrea Polli, Team Biocultura collaborator.


Internationally known for her work at the intersection of art, science and technology, Polli is an Associate Professor in Art & Ecology with a joint appointment between Fine Arts and Engineering. She also holds the Mesa Del Sol Endowed Chair of Digital Media at The University of New Mexico. Her partner, Donalds’ work combines media and architectural practice by designing fantastical spaces that mix futuristic materials and forms with traditional, buildable structures. He has collaborated on projects such as “Eden Again,” a human wastewater garden planned for Iraq’s first National Park.


In the evening, enjoy a community feast by artist and cook and environmental executive, Ric Lum. Created with food foraged from wild places and farms in our local Rio Grande area, the meal is part of Lum’s multi-year undertaking, The Rio Feast Project. The project consists of a series of meals situated along the Rio Grande from its source in Southern Colorado all the way through New Mexico, Texas, and Mexico, to its outlet in the Gulf of Mexico. “These meals are symbols of the connections and associations that form when people make a commitment to “walking the land” and becoming intimately acquainted with regional foodways,” says Lum.


The evening will also feature a campfire, music by Justin Dean and mark Dudrow of High Desert Acoustic Duo and readings by local poet, Erin Bad Hand, all inspired by this year’s theme, Thinking Wilderness. The evening events will take place at Wild Rivers in Montoso Campground at 6 pm.


This year NeoRio also celebrates the launch of LEAP’s online “Wilderness Thinkers in Residence” project on September 3rd, the actual day of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. The project will feature a new “Wilderness Thinker” every week from Sept. 2014 – Sept. 2015, showcasing diverse ideas in varied mediums from local to national and even international participants. The project continues to accept Wilderness Thinker submissions at:


LEAP’s Thinking Wilderness project Co-Creative Director, Anita McKeown says, “We hope to engage participants and audiences in a valuable reflection and discussion on Wilderness in the 21st Century and what better place to start than at NeoRio!?”  


NeoRio 2014 is a BLM Public Lands Day event at Wild Rivers with support from the Questa Economic Development Fund, Questa Mine Community Fund, OCHO Art & Event Space , Forest Service Questa Ranger District, Village of Questa and other organizations, individuals and local businesses.

“Many people in Taos County know and use the lands in the new National Monument, but the NeoRio projects this year provide unique and innovative ways to connect to a landscape that we already love,” says John Bailey, BLM spokesman for the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument.


For more information, visit or call Claire at 575-586-2362.