Ellen McMahon's practice spans art, design and writing. She teaches interdisciplinary seminar and critique courses in the Studio Art Graduate Program as well as the seminar, “Art, Design and Environment.” Since 2005 McMahon has developed a number of interdisciplinary collaborations, providing practical experience for students, and creating significant bonds and long-term benefits to the community. In 2007 McMahon received a Fulbright Scholars Grant to contribute as a writer and graphic designer to an interdisciplinary conservation project in Mexico. In 2010 she received a grant from Confluencenter for the project, "Parallel Play: Interdisciplinary Responses to a Dry River," to collaborate with faculty and students from CAPLA, Creative Writing, Geography, and Ecology on a project addressing the aqueous ecology of the region. This work is collected in the book Ground|Water: The Art, Design and Science of a Dry River, which she edited with colleagues Beth Weinstein and Ander Monson. Released in January of 2013, it has won national and international design awards. Her latest essay is published in The Nature of the Desert, edited by Gary Nabhan, 2020.
McMahon oversees numerous ongoing student projects addressing climate change and social and environmental justice issues and is currently collaborating with forest mortality scientists on several projects related to the decline of Southwestern forests.