Creativity comes naturally to the Rivanna River at FLOW 2018

A celebration of art,  music,  song,  and  dance takes place at the Rivanna river on Saturday, September 29.  Publicity photo. A celebration of art, music, song, and dance takes place at the Rivanna river on Saturday, September 29. Publicity photo.

Harmony is difficult to come by amidst the traffic jams, loading screens, and other small annoyances of daily life. Deborah McLeod makes her escape through a union of art and nature. And FLOW 2018 holds the door open for others into the world of the Rivanna River.

FLOW is a festival that gathers the artists and environmentalists of the community to express their passion for nature, sponsored by Chroma Projects Gallery and Albemarle County Parks and Recreation. Their partnership is one that still grows; the collaboration began only a year ago with talks of the first annual festival.The event is more than just an information session; it’s an exhibition of the visual and performing talents of Charlottesville, aiming to inspire attendees to evaluate their own role in nature.

McLeod is one part of the whole behind FLOW as the founder of Chroma Projects Callery.

“[The festival] is not unlike seeing the world anew through the eyes of a child,” says McLeod. “I think in a way that artists actually are like children – they tend to keep that sense of wonder and possibility throughout their lives, and point others to it.”

This year’s FLOW festival hopes to push the message even more, featuring new and returning artists. Previous attendees may remember Ed Miller’s towering sculpture made completely from the river’s resources, a clay man reaching for the sky; others may think of Dorrise Aha’s performance on the natural world. Other names include Renee Balfour, the Love Army Ukulele Brigade, Richard Crozier, and others.

FLOW also intends to educate the public about the river. The Rivanna Conservation Alliance, the Rivanna River Company, and the Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center are prepared to speak on the challenges facing the Rivanna today, and what efforts they’re taking to protect it, through workshops and stations.

FLOW is also an opportunity to connect to nature, with what McLeod describes as the “restorative pleasure of being in nature and by the water.” Visitors will have the chance to participate in workshops and competitions, such as crafts sponsored by the McGuffey Art Center and the FLOWtilla Spontaneous Art Boat Parade.

Certainly, FLOW is a time to enjoy the work of passionate individuals–a “balance between art and nature,” says McLeod–but she and her partners ultimately strive to restore an appreciation of the Rivanna River.

“Suffering in silence beneath but giving us its dynamic force and sparkling surface,” says McLeod, “a river really stands as a witness.”

FLOW takes place on September 29 at 11am at Darden Towe Park and boat ramp. —Adriana Wells

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