Arts, Community, Environmental Stewards

The Art, Community, and Environmental Stewards (ACES) program, co-run by Mallory Muya and Ryan Davis, offers a year-long paid internship that invites young people ages 15‒20 to explore the connections between community-building, cultural organizing, and nature-informed arts education. Interns work together to imagine and share new possibilities for their relationships to community and environment through looking to nature as a teacher, making art, and telling stories.

Throughout the internship, youth work to foster connections to land and culture with the community, as they address their own histories, experiences, and legacies as young people affecting social and environmental change in New York City.

Interns engage with working artists and organizers and take part in rigorous dialogue and art-making to generate conversation around systems-change. They take field trips to museums, cultural institutions, green spaces, and artist studios, and plan and develop collective projects to share their learning.

By taking on roles as stewards, interns critically engage with the questions:

  • What does it mean to steward?
  • How do we bring care, possibility, and a sense of wild play to the people, ideas, and environments we steward? 
  • How do our practices as stewards impact our communities?

Before Us, With Us, After Us

The 2018/2019 of ACES interns are currently investigating cultural and environmental organizing through curriculum that delves into the questions: Who and what came before us? Who and what is working with us? What comes after us? How doe we support this as stewards of community and the land?

This Fall, ACES interns took field trips to the Flux Factory, American Museum of Natural History, Central Park, Socrates Sculpture Garden; met with visiting artists; and engaged with Wave Hill’s own gardens, woodland, Figuring the Floral exhibition, and Sunroom Project Spaces to delve more deeply into what and who came before them. ACES also deeply engaged with Bahar Behabani’s Generated@Wave Hill project, Water Has the Perfect Memory through multiple working sessions, assisting in research, and taking part in the rituals and public events around the project. ACES interns continue the work this Winter and Spring through investigating what and who they are working with as well as exploring what the legacy they will leave behind might be. Stay tuned for documentation of that work!

Our Most Wild Imaginings

The 2018/2019 cohort focused their year-long internship engaging with ideas around their Most Wild Imaginings to map out radical imagination, pretend, and play as tools for world-shaping. ACES interns also explored ideas of the wilderness within them—and worked to unpack what they’ve been socialized and conditioned to nuture/unnuture. Youth made visits to the Queens Museum, Bronx Open Studios, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and the Sugarhill Children’s Museum and engaged with artists Nobutaka Aozaki, Jessica Seagall, and Tijay Mohammed.

Youth presented a final exhibition in which they transformed the Gund Theater at Wave Hill, an inter-generational informal learning space for storytelling, into a Wild Garden that represented their visions for the future. Our Most Wild Imaginings was an installation that acted as a portal to a magical garden. ACES interns built their installation to reflect the inspiration they felt when spending time around children who are consistently in awe of nature. ACES interns invited families to sit with the over-sized flowers, glowing mushrooms, and under the rainbow canopy of a willow to remember what it feels like to feel playful, small, and in total awe with nature.