A Mystery Skool Production

by Female Background aka Gabriella D’Italia

Female Background (with images from Jessie Mott, Evelyn Dragan, & Miroco Machiko)

I moved through the forest and at the other end of the trees, where things began to thin out a bit, sat the piano. I knew I would have to deliver the song, in fact he’d started to play it without us, using the sheet music we’d given him and I felt guilty that although I’d written the music, I couldn’t remember it without reading what I’d written down. The sheet music was gorgeously expressed, embellished with golden flourishes: musical instruments, branches, and verdant leaves. I desperately wanted not to sing. I approached the piano and you were ahead of me, more eager to perform. We joined in, you loudly and eager. I lagged behind, in a hopelessly Sisyphean effort trying to conceal my voice with my song.  I stayed just at the edge of the dense forest, not coming out completely. I knew that the shame was located in my throat, but as it is invisible, most people don’t quite believe it’s there. If I were making it up it would be humiliating enough, but the true horror was the prevailing notion that the invisible doesn’t exist at all.

A guide was further down a path that emerged from the forest as the trees began to thin. He instructed us on tending a small section of plants and trees that surrounded this part of the path. He made sure to point out a couple of trees that he alone would take care of, as he put it. He repeatedly ran his hand down some of the smaller and more supple branches while warning us from them, “They have venereal disease.”

Female Background (with images from Evelyn Dragan, Miroco Machiko)

The lions and bears were living side by side. They were not in the forest, but outside of the large, modern house in the suburbs. The one with the large glass windows.

UltCult Residency Review by Katie Macyshyn

Standing at the peak of passion and profession, Ultracultural Others: Urban Mystery Skool for Radical Creatives was exactly the conscious realignment I needed to re-realize my creative dreams.


Looking through my third eye and receiving abundance after performing at Under St. Mark’s

When I was in art school, I was on fire. Making and talking about art became second nature. What I did not learn in school was how to support an art practice. Throughout some years of trial and error, and more error, I began to get bitter. I started coveting others’ success, feeling there was not enough to go around, comparing myself, snidely thinking I was better or more deserving. Only through some grace did I start meditating. I found that when I had a smile behind my eyes the world was different. I found a full-time job as an art teacher, which while fulfilling, was an emotional roller coaster from daily classroom management and conflict resolution. I dug deeper into healing, studying various religions, meditation techniques, and holistic healing modalities. This call for healing guided me through a stressful job, my partner having a serious health scare, and my dissatisfaction with not being an “artist” but an art teacher. After leaving the job, my expansion was fast and miraculous. I realized that lack is a figment of the ego-mind, that living with gratitude brought abundance, and that there is no such thing as a possession. The only worthwhile thing there is is love, which is in an infinite supply through the people around you and the universe itself. That’s the backstory….


A tarot reading by Ashni at the Morgan Library and Museum in the form of the rose cross. This was a powerful reminder of how to maintain openness.

I found Ultracultural Others at the point I declared art would be my first priority. I was looking for residencies and knew that “radical creative” was exactly the tribe I sought. I wasn’t exactly sure what the program was or what I would be doing, but I was excited to be doing whatever it was with like-minded individuals. Upon arrival, I was surprised to be living with the artists I had been corresponding with and their beautiful baby. How would I bring strangers over at night?! After the initial surprise subsided, I was delighted to stay with them. Katie and Undakova create an enveloping sense of beauty, magic, and calm in their home. Through morning yoga, meditation, ritual song, chanting, incense, a fridge full of healthy food, and the occasional dance break, the Ultracultural Others family made me feel immediately open and secure. (And their view is fantastic.)


This was the one day of January when it snowed. Instead of going to a “music video party” we had a dance party at home, complete with spooky makeup and video art. 

As per the program, the days were mostly unstructured, giving me plenty of time to rest, write, draw, and do my homework assignments for my Mystery Skool courses. The programs I chose were Doula’s Apprentice and Demystifying Divination. Though the curriculum was tightly compacted, the expertise of my instructors allowed me to ask questions on anything that came up. I’ve been introduced to concepts that open up wide new avenues of learning. So much so that I had a revelation to continue academic pursuits in the field of transpersonal art therapy.


A photo Katie snapped of me at Jennifer Rubell’s opening at Sargeant’s Daughters. The Ultracultural Others apartment is close to so many great galleries.

Don’t think it was all work and no play, however. I was provided frequent e-mail updates on art events and opportunities as per my interests from Katie. I even got to participate in the premier of DREAM BEAT, a healing dance ritual hosted by Ultracultural Others which was one of the highlights of my stay. Other highlights include biking across the Williamsburg bridge at 4AM under the full moon, a women’s shamanic circle led by Siri Rishi, and a unicorn themed rave. Being around so many inspiring light workers allowed me to blossom in my own somatic and psychic intelligence. For someone toying with the idea of moving to NYC, this program was the perfect sampler, providing resources, inspiration, and friends I will not soon forget.


Katie squared dressed up for DREAM BEAT.

If you are a self-starter who can structure your days in a productive way, you will feel right at home in this program and in NYC. I had such a fulfilling experience and am heading back to Baltimore with an open heart and a clear mind in order to continue affecting change through art. Thank you, Ultracultural Others!


Best $18 I spent in NY

Hey! Katie Macyshyn here. I’m the January resident of the Urban Mystery Skool program. As an exercise in frugality, I’ve begun documenting literally everything I spend money on. (This is a tip I picked up from Gigi Rosenberg’s Artist’s Guide to Grant Writing and figured it’d be a helpful tool in determining if NYC is a possibility for permanent residency if you feel me.) While $18 seemed steep, it was more than worth it to get to the New Museum as soon as they opened and see Swedish multimedia artist ,Pipilotti Rist’s, Pixel Forest. I know you’ve all heard about how amazing the show is, so I’ll keep it brief and just show you some pictures:


Well that’s me ^^^ The expression = awe.




When I walked into the 2nd floor installation, her cover of Wicked Game was playing. The music in concert with these scrim flags gently moving gave me a real rush of emotions. Judging by the comments on the link I wasn’t the only one.

And finally, an artistic comparison to stupider things I have spent $18 on this month…


My Barbarian is rad too on the 5th floor. Their handout is in the background of the Open My Glade (Flatten) postcard I appropriated.