Episode 51: Mallory Muya: Rooting In Place

Mallory Muya has such a thoughtful way of being and made some beautiful connections as we talked about land and place, engaging students and families, and claiming your space as an artist. I loved hearing about Bahar Behbahani’s project investigating water at Wave Hill. It connected to so many topics and sounded incredibly rich and meaningful. I’ve also been thinking a lot about water in my own work. 

Mallory drew connections between decentering ourselves as educators in the classroom and thinking about personal geography, our place, and the spaces we occupy. It was so helpful to hear about rooting these big ideas in our own bodies, asking questions about the physical space you’re existing within. She brought this into practice when I asked about her curiosity. I could feel her scanning her surroundings, getting in touch with her senses, and responding in the moment.

It was so resonant how she talked about finding balance in her schedule and struggling with feelings of guilt over time spent deeply and enjoyably researching an artist for curriculum development. She also talked about being an introvert and how the connections with students and families are nourishing, but also require a rest sandwich. Yes!

Mallory is an artist and educator concerned with creating caring spaces that nurture reflection and dialogue to work towards personal and social transformation. She looks to nature as teacher for how we can learn to be with each other differently, and learn new ways of showing up for each other. Her support of social-emotional learning is at the service of transformative justice: believing personal growth opens portals to new possibilities in collective liberation. She is a graduate from Global College, and through its experiential learning model, conducted ethnographic fieldwork and participated in community organizing movements in Central America, India, China, South Africa and Spain. She has worked as the Culture Arts and Nature Program facilitator at the Chicago Park District, co-running youth arts programming and supporting cultural programming in public spaces. She currently works at Wave Hill Public Garden and Cultural Center where she runs multigenerational programming and facilitates arts and nature-based education.

In her personal practice as an artist, she creates work that layers writing, collage, relationship-building with nature, and assemblage of discarded materials. She plays with ideas of magic, the messy processing of memory, collective care, and deepening her relationship with her own body. She uses myth and language to make and manipulate meaning from ecological processes and phenomena. She is currently studying to receive her certificate in Horticultural Therapy, and uses these practices to continually look to a return to the body through a return to the land. Through the practice of moving her  body to fit a landscape, she is learning how to move her body to regenerate the lands within.