For El Paso native Xochitl Rodriguez, art is “about creating a moment in somebody’s life.” A multi-talented practitioner, she was Bhutan’s first-ever invited artist in residence. Since her daughter’s birth, Xochitl led the Caldo Collective and now partners with Femme Frontera Filmmaker Showcase to offer support for artists in the border region. In 2020, her first short documentary, Grown Without Water took international audiences on a journey with her and her daughter through their desert home at the zipper of two countries. She now enjoys a life driven by family, philanthropy, and a relentless desire to show her daughter just how big and breathtaking the world can be.
I’ll never forget one specific stunning moment on the river when the moon was peeking over a canyon, the sky was super pink and the river and the canoe was pointing to the moon. Calista looked back at me and said, ‘I can’t believe the world is even bigger than it was yesterday.’
Xochitl Rodriguez, an artist and El Paso native, enjoys a life driven by family, community organizing, triathlon training, and a relentless desire to show her daughter just how big and breathtaking the world can be. Watch Xochitl and her daughter Calista explore and connect with the beauty of the Franklin Mountains.
May 2018 – For El Paso native Xochitl Rodriguez, art is “about creating a moment in somebody’s life instead of a thing for someone.” A multi-talented performer, she was Bhutan’s first-ever invited artist in residence. Having since returned to El Paso, Xochitl co-founded the Caldo Collective, a nonprofit aimed at creating experiences that allow community and artists to come together. She now enjoys a life driven by family, community organizing, triathlon training, and a relentless desire to show her daughter just how big and breathtaking the world can be.
Matt Morris, Xochitl Rodriguez and Jay Kleberg have spent a lot of time in the rugged beauty of the Franklin Mountains. The mountains have nurtured them and healed them. For all three, it is a place for recreation and inspiration. Find out why in this month’s podcast.
Hiking with Kids
Follow along with Xochitl Rodriguez and find out her top tips for hiking with kids.
What’s Inside Her Backpack
Learn what Xochitl Rodriguez packs in her backpack for a long hike with daughter Calista.
Trail Running Tips
Listen in as Xochitl Rodriguez and Matt Morris share the tips you need for your next trail run.
2018 Q&A with Xochitl
How have your experiences in nature inspired your creativity?
Nature has always been part of my life. I learned at an early age the value of creating experiences and sharing them. That learning was underscored when I was invited to Bhutan to teach children about art. A lot of work I did brought people together, like finding resources to take these kids on day-long treks to get to their temples for worship and exploration. I understood very clearly the power that nature has to crack people open. It became clear that no matter what kind of art they could make, what determined the power of their art was whether I could help them find their own ways to tell their own stories.
How are you sharing your love of the outdoors with your family?
I learned many lessons from the matriarchs in my family. My mom and grandma shared adventures with me and taught me things that I didn’t realize I was learning until I knew I had to share them. There’s a lot of ancient women in my family, and I continue learning from them all. I was so nervous about becoming a mom. This long tradition of strong matriarchs in my family created a beautiful level of expectation. Like my mother did with me, I am sharing life’s adventures with her. I first strapped Calista in a backpack for a hike with me when she was four months old. I am teaching her, and she is teaching me, to appreciate the pulse of the land and trails. It is such a beautiful thing to share.
Why have you partnered with TPWF in the We Will Not Be Tamed campaign?
I think it’s really good to show other moms that nothing is impossible. I think all families have tons of distractions, and just taking the time to stop, look and listen is hard. And when you really get out there, it can be physically challenging. When I found out that Calista would be featured in the photo for the campaign, I thought that this could be great, to show people that you can take your kid anywhere and show them anything. Another reason that I am involved is that there are a lot of people who have no idea what we have in El Paso. I am so honored to be able to highlight how incredible it is out here in the Chihuahuan Desert. It’s a treasure worth thinking about and caring about.
Can you share a recent outdoor experience that was meaningful to you and explain why?
The hike with Calista that was photographed for this campaign was something I’ll never forget. We hiked for six hours that day, and it was grueling, physically and emotionally. I’ve carried her on my back for multiple hours before, but this was the first time I’ve taken her to the ridge. We’ve done this together so often that she is totally tuned in. To me, the mountain, everything. As we approached the ridge, the only way up was traversing a bunch of rocks, very difficult terrain. And she was so tuned in. She could sense my breath and voice, she could tell, mom is tired, and I am going to calm down. So, she got real quiet for that last thirty minutes of the climb. It was so powerful, and I felt so honored and humbled that she was taking every single cue. She was completely connected to me, my body, my mind, the land. We spent an hour on the ridge. She roamed around and stretched and said, “It’s big momma, look how big. It’s the biggest place we know.” I will forever treasure this memory.