Rebecca Nava Soto is a Xicanx-Latinx multidisciplinary artist and educator born in Chicago, IL to Mexican immigrant parents. She uses mixed media painting, digital media and ephemeral installations to explore themes of writing/iconography, landscape, technology, and Art as Ritual. She earned a BFA in Painting from the University of Cincinnati and an MFA in Painting from Boston University. In the institutional art educational canon she sought to reconcile her identity within the eurocentric art historical focused curriculum. This led to her pursuit in formal education of PreColumbian Art History courses as an undergraduate and indigenous Mesoamérican Glyphic writing systems in Boston while in graduate school. Her practice includes independent travel and research to communities and architectural ruins in the Maya and Nahuas lands in Mexico and recently to the Weeminuche, Navajo, Abenaki and Mohican lands of the United States. Like her white artist counterparts, she has sought to continue in a painting and art tradition that included her lineage.
Her most recent projects invite public support of contemporary indigenous regeneration initiatives in the United States and Mexico. In 2021, 2022 and 2023 Rebecca has been a recipient of the ArtsWave, Truth and Reconciliation grant award for Black and Brown artists and in 2022 she received a Vibrant Communities Grant from the Covington's Center for Great Neighborhoods. In 2023, Rebecca was awarded residencies at the Wavepool's Welcome Project in Cincinnati, The Elsewhere Studios in Colorado and the Elizabeth Murray Artist Residency in New York.
In crafting an immersive installation inspired by the El Niño opera, I intend to draw inspiration from my Xicanx-Latinx aesthetic and where the syncretism of earth as mother converges with indigenous, Mesoamerican mythologies.
The tactile element of wood shavings, reminiscent of the natural materials used in indigenous celebrations, will form the basis of the installation. As participants navigate through this sensory landscape, feeling wood shavings underfoot, I aim to create a collective experience reminiscent of the communal creations of "alfombras" rooted in ancient practices that predate European influences.
The visual and olfactory dimensions of the installation will be woven to mirror the rich narrative of El Niño.
Dynamic and vibrantly colorful hanging panels will work in tandem with the opera's emotional crescendos, providing a synesthetic journey for the audience. I intend to heighten the immersive experience with the aroma of copal incense, a sacred material in indigenous Mesoamerica. The scent of copal aims to transport participants to a realm where art and ritual converge.