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The myth project

This practice is about working with local storytellers and residents to write and visually interpret new mythologies that aim to reclaim our bodies and geographies from colonial myth-making, and reframe our experiences from a place of imagination, power, and tradition.

This project got its momentum from the healing I found in the creation of my own myth. Working with others to tell our stories from our own cultural references, playfulness, and dreams, I have seen the reflection of this healing. I see this as a vehicle to process collective grief, joy, to give space to cultural memory.

The project has not yet been presented publicly, and currently comprises of audio, written mythologies, photography and footage of my visual translations of each myth, and multiple artistic interpretations of the new mythology from other local artists.

Presentations of this work may take the shape of a book, immersive exhibitions, and public offerings like workshops and community dinners.

Below are an outline of the process and a sneak peak of some of the work.

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These creatures are created from a combination of sculpted, molded, and cast silicone and foam latex prosthetics, alcohol paint, and organic materials.

Below is an outline of the process in development. Hover over different graphics for more in depth descriptions.

Each original myth falls into one of three categories:

Personal mythology surrounding the body and its experiences

Reinterpretation and recontextualization of existing mythologies

Collective mythology surrounding place and environment

The process begins with intimate one-on-one interviews or group story sessions about conditions, experiences, and histories related to body and place whose narratives has been shaped by American mythology. During this time, I use various exercises and guided meditations to prompt people to think about the experience through a fantastical lens, proposing images and settings that come to mind.

Story Session

After the initial story session, I spend time with the audio and propose a potential framework for an origin story or representational myth. Once the original storyteller(s) feel good about it, I write as many drafts as needed to finalize it with them. 

Myth Creation

After everyone feels aligned with the direction of the story and its visual elements, I construct the world of the myth and place the storyteller inside of it. 


myth telephone

The finalized written myth is handed to three local artists (a dancer, musician, and visual artist) each of whom interpret the story in their own medium

Story sessions conducted, myths written, translations fabricated by Maya Pen.

"tamah. the foremother of children returning from exile."


reclaiming ourselves, our mothers, and our children from cycles of abuse.

sneak preview

Storyteller: Tamah Yisrael

Original topic: Escaping generational cycles of abuse / finding oneself

This myth tells the origin story of a celestial diety, who rules a small planet closest to the sun. As a young girl in her human life, she never felt she fit in. Her mother--who acted as her angel and confidant-- told her: "you are different. you are special. embrace it." As sweet as her mother was, the girl watched her over the years battle with abusive relationships. Later, as the young girl grew to be a young woman, she too faced the wrath of abuse, until shortly after her mother's death, she couldn't take it anymore. She claimed a new faith and a new name: Tamah- the foremother of children returning from exile.

In the afterlife, she soon learns that the name was not newly chosen- it was always hers. It was always her destiny to embrace her difference, her full celestial self, and rain gold onto the hands and ears of exiles still on earth, who would soon find her and be all they never got to be. 

"the pain of many lives"

understanding schizophrenia as indigenous rite of passage 

sneak preview

Storyteller: Santi Castro

Original topic: Schizophrenia

This myth centers a celestial being who is approached by divinities while embodying Quetzalcoatl on their home star. The divinities prophesize that their next mission is to visit earth to help generations of humans transmit and understand their generation suffering. The being is told that they will know when they are soon to return to their star when they are on their last human life, during which they will feel and experience the lives of all their human manifestations at once.

excerpt from original story session
00:00 / 03:07

with Santi Castro & Maya Pen

Origins of Narcolepsy
Sneak preview

 Version 2 - photographed by Kenzi Crash

This myth tells the story of a mother on her death bed, desperately trying to tether her soul to her human body so that her daughter will have a chance to say goodbye. Just as her daughter is arriving, however, her soul ascends, and she begrudgingly finds herself before the Goddess of death. She begs the Goddess for five extra minutes on earth to spend with her daughter. The Goddess grants her wish, but not without warning her of the sacrifice she is making; the unending years of restlessness to come for her future lineage, who would always feel in between dimensions. 

excerpt from origin story

She could hear something in the distance. The sound came to her from deep inside a locked drawer. Her daughter. She was here. In one ear: a roaring. Like an ocean; like a thousand people carrying a building through a city; like a beast in love. In the other ear: her daughter pulling into the driveway; undoing her seat belt; wiping a rogue curl from her temple; her weighted steps toward her mothers death bed. 


But the Mother was no longer heavy enough to occupy her complicated body. She could not fathom how to slink back in. She was amorphous, looking over herself, expanding across the room, feeling what she had always been, staring at her empty vehicle. She watched herself with a desperate silence.

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