News: Remembering WCP Faculty Member Darcy Mullen
Posted December 22, 2020
I met Darcy Mullen when she took the seat next to me on our first day of Brittain Fellow orientation in August 2017. We sat next to each other all through our digital pedagogy seminar that first semester and as I came to know her, our professional relationship evolved into a more personal one. She was one of my best friends, along with our colleague Leah Misemer, and I am devastated by her loss.
Darcy was full of love. She loved her friends and her students. She loved her dog, Caleb, and sent Leah and I videos of his antics. Most especially though, to Darcy, sharing a meal meant sharing love, so no wonder my memories of her revolve around food. The first time she invited me to her home was to have dinner: beef bourguignon. Darcy, Leah, and I would try new restaurants when Darcy was working on her food biography of Atlanta. The three of us would have brunch parties to watch The Great British Bake-Off at Darcy’s house. We discussed haircuts and family over tacos and mimosas, and job applications and our classes over coffee, fig, bacon, and brie tart tartines, and macarons at Amelie’s. After the server at Bocca Lupo christened me “Angel Princess” during an amazing dinner there our first year in Atlanta, Darcy continued to use that nickname for me and I laughed every time she did - and then I craved Italian food.
She was also an artist. She studied art before moving on to English and submitted work for display in the Georgia Tech Clough Art Crawl the last two years. Her work was organic and personal; she used ink she’d made from botanicals and she delved into her journey through chronic illness with mixed media art that explored her endometriosis. The piece of her art that I remember most vividly was the generic depiction of an Edwardian couple at the opera to which she’d painted an iPod into the woman’s hand. It hung over the fireplace in her living room and the incongruity of technology and historic costumes in it always drew my eye.
Both her artistic nature and her love of food (and food as love) coalesced in Darcy’s scholarship. Her courses at Georgia Tech explored the rhetoric of food, and highlighted the cultural aspects of agriculture, urban development, and outreach around the sharing and production of food. Darcy’s work with the Atlanta Mayor’s office AgLanta initiative contributed to that unit’s nomination for the 2019 Civic Impact Award. She invited authors to speak to her students and worked with SLS to create partnerships in the local community for her classes. She recorded videos in her kitchen for her students in her remote classes, such as the one focusing on the colonialism inherent in the popularity of pumpkin spice lattes and chai, all while brewing a cup of coffee (spices included!) and making pumpkin chili. And because food meant caring to Darcy, she packed snacks for the homeless encampments she drove by on the way to campus.
Darcy lived a life of giving. She gave 100% of herself to her family, her friends, and her students. One of the last things she gave to Leah and me was a care package for our anticipated distance watch parties for the newest season of Bake-off: a candle, mugs we’d used at her house, tissues for the inevitable emotional reactions during the show, and a mug-cake packet so we could have our cake and eat it, too. There were also stickers in that package: food-themed, of course, and affirmational, in order to bring more positivity when the world seemed to be burning down around us. She brought light and joy to so many. It was the little things that she shared and did and gave every day that made her such a wonderful friend, colleague, scholar, and teacher. I miss her.