That’s a picture of me; I’m Naomi Ullian. I’m an emerging writer and artist working most often in immersive journalism, essay, photography, and short fiction.
I grew up in a yellow house on a dirt road across the river from the steepled peninsula of Charleston, SC. At my birth, one of my grandfathers said he’d eaten chickens bigger than me and offered to fit me in his shoe. The other observed of my toddlerhood, “She will never be bored.” My parents were biology nerds mystified by my creative impulses, but my grandmothers loved opera, modernist art, salvaged antiques, shoes, outrageous outfits. I went as far as I could for college (California) and learned to cook lentils and build sleeping lofts and bumble through classes with Elizabeth Tallent, Yusef Komunyakaa, Gail Wight, Stephanie Syjuco, Tony Kramer, and June Watanabe. I graduated from Stanford University in 2005 with BAs in Creative Writing and Art Practice.
After that I got obsessed with plants and zig-zagged across several continents in search of people who knew botany and anything about human co-evolution with photosynthetic species. I couldn’t stop going to school, a subject which I will surely interrogate in an essay some day. I studied at the United Plant Savers Sanctuary, the Northeast School of Botanical Medicine, and the North American Institute for Medial Herbalism. I went to yoga teacher training and wilderness first aid training and auricular acupuncture training. I even studied for three years at the New England Center for Circus Arts, where I learned about mammalian physiology in great kinesthetic detail, from the inside out.
I don’t know what existential hole I was trying to fill, but now I grow plants and use them, perform and teach acrobatics, and, most salient to this introduction, I write about it all: bodies and planet, class and climate, access to care, interspecies relations, and the role of human beings in dynamic ecosystem functions. You know, light stuff.
I’ve worked as a farmer, archival researcher, video editor, hostess, elementary school art teacher, physical theater performer, landscaper, and freelance writer. In 2017, I co-founded Big Teeth Performance and continue to direct and perform ensemble acrobatic dance-theater, which mostly entails holding on tight, making faces, and balancing on my own or in other peoples’ hands. In May 2021, I will graduate the Johns Hopkins masters program in Science Writing.
I welcome assignments and new editorial relationships. For assignments, collaborations, or query, connect with me at nullian_at_gmail.com