Willoughby Arevalo is a mycologist, artist, musician, kitchen wizard and educator from Arcata, California, and currently based in Vancouver, Canada with his wife and partner Isabelle Kirouac. He holds a B.A. in Studio Art from Humboldt State University with additional studies in mycology, somatic practices, ethnomusicology and gender studies.
Willoughby is a member of the Radical Mycology Collective, a group dedicated to community-based education, which empowers people to work as allies with fungi for ecological, societal, community and personal resilience. He is a contributing author to the book, Radical Mycology, by the innovative mycologist Peter McCoy, and he wrote the foreword of the book Mushroom Essences: Vibrational Medicine from the Kingdom Fungi by renowned mycologist and herbalist Robert Rogers. Willoughby teaches, performs and leads forays regularly at festivals and events, and he has toured North America, presenting and teaching mycology around the continent. He grows mushrooms at home and in the garden using low-tech methods, subsistence forages and prepares food and medicine from the harvests. He has co-directed several large, international gatherings and intensive trainings, such as the 2014 Radical Mycology Convergence in Illinois and the Recomposing Life Course in Portland, OR. At Recomposing Life, Willoughby facilitated a workshop using an innovative approach to experiential mycology, which incorporated somatic practices into the process of studying fungal ecology.
Inspired by his lifelong love of culinary art, Willoughby has produced and prepared food in a variety of unique contexts, so as to deepen peoples’ connection with the food they eat. He co-hosted and created a supper club called Roots in Boots, Fruits in Suits for several years in collaboration with co-chef Leslie Castellano, in which they elaborated artistic concepts through the medium of food and performance. Willoughby also regularly works as a chef and forager for special events, such as dance festivals and artistic retreats. He has been farming organic vegetables and mushrooms since 2009, engaging directly with the land to coax food from the ground and distribute it within his communities. Currently he is farming at Hannah Brook Farms in Burnaby, BC. Willoughby is in the process of writing his first cookbook, which features wild foods, seasonal produce and a food-as-medicine approach to local cuisine.
Willoughby’s performance training includes theater, dance, music and visual art. He has performed in the work of Isabelle Kirouac, Carpetbag Brigade Physical Theater and Body Research. His visual art practice includes building musical instruments with primarily found objects, life drawing, graffiti art, collage, mural painting and mask making.
He has played in many musical projects over the years and is in several currently. Versionary is his solo, experimental dub project. Medicine Baul is a tremendous release whenever he is back home in Arcata. Body Builders is his ongoing collaboration with Isabelle Kirouac, which takes various forms. An as-yet-unnamed collaboration with Paul Paroczai, Terence Grigoruk and Isabelle Kirouac has turned his drumset invisible. Notable past projects include Kunchry Bwoys, Winston Smith, Opposites Attack, Pubic Zirconium and the Scrambled Debutantes.
For a decade, he co-directed The Placebo, a non-profit, all-ages music and art venue which served as a safe space and platform for creative expression for the youth of Humboldt County, California. As a youth he was an ensemble member of Six Rivers Planned Parenthood’s Spare Change Theater, which created and performed a show to educate their peers about sexual health and sexual responsibility.
Following his childhood dreams, Willoughby participated for twelve years in the Kinetic Sculpture Race, Humboldt County’s largest community art event, which has run since 1969. From his start as pit crew for veteran racer Duane Flatmo, he became a pilot and eventually formed his own team of racers in collaboration with Kinetic Universe President Kati Texas. They raced together as Classical Nudes in 2010 and as Heroes of Gloryopolis in 2011.
Mural painting has been one of Willoughby’s enduring community engagements, through his 7-year participation in the Rural Burl Mural Bureau, a group for at-risk youth which has painted dozens of public murals in the downtown redevelopment district of Eureka, CA. Since moving to Vancouver, this work has continued through the process of creating a community mural celebrating the local ecology and history at Collingwood Park in collaboration with Collingwood Neighborhood House and with support from the Vancouver Parks Board and Still Moon Arts Society.