- PHOTO BY SHAWN THOMPSON
- Muck Duck Studio is led by Stephe Ferm, Sally Drutman, Casey Arthur, and Ambar de Santiago.
Arthur — who goes by the moniker Miss Casey — began inviting like-minded people into her space.
There was yoga instructor Ambar de Santiago, who helped Arthur stage meditation and wellness workshops out of her studio. Not long after, Arthur welcomed singer-songwriter and vocal coach Sally Drutman, who performs as Sally Louise, into one of the studio’s extra rooms for teaching lessons. Then along came painter and musician Stephe Ferm.
By November 2021, the collective — whose core members call themselves “mama mucks” — moved into its current space in Suite 319 of the same building at 595 Blossom Road.
“Ultimately, what I realized is there's a lot of powerful, creative people in our town and in our city who don't have a space that's safe or secure enough to do what they love,” Arthur says. “And I wanted to provide that secure base for as many people as I could, including myself, because I knew my needs. And I knew I was not alone in that.”
- PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH
- Sally Drutman and Ambar de Santiago at the cozy confines of Muck Duck Studio on Blossom Road.
“The need for physical space is just so that people can feel the connection that rolls between one person and another person,” she says. “Ideas can feed off of each other, and we can take it in any direction we choose when we’re together.”
Achieving social and emotional wellness through art is at the heart of Muck Duck’s mission.
“We all feel like we haven't quite fit in a mold,” Drutman says. “And we've created our own molds, and so we kind of celebrate that.”
The studio is equipped to accommodate up to 15 people at a given time, but more than 100 visitors showed up for the collective’s 12-hour grand opening on Jan. 15.
Arthur was previously a humanitarian aid worker with the United Nations, where she assisted at a Bangkok refugee camp, and has worked in Washington, D.C., on behalf of child refugees detained at the U.S.-Mexico border. She has plans for a refugee outreach program in Rochester called Witherless, which would use art as a vehicle for wellness. Her ultimate goal is to help refugees who have settled in Rochester to tell their stories and become more visible in the community.
“The Muck Duck really is just a group of people who didn't quite fit in the general society or the norms, or couldn't follow the trends,” Arthur says. “They just kind of found themselves left out. And we're kind of making a hub for everyone who felt just a little bit displaced, which really pairs well with working with refugees, because they are globally displaced.”
For the latest on the art collective, including upcoming events, go to instagram.com/muckduckstudio.
Daniel J. Kushner is CITY’s arts editor. He can be reached at [email protected].