In Kookerville, MAD’s Fall 2017 Van Lier Fellow Lexy Ho-Tai presents mixed-media artworks and soft sculptures crafted from found and recycled materials, exploring the intersection between craft and play. As part of the Museum’s Fellow Focus series, the exhibition considers art and accessibility in the context of Kookerville, an imagined world created by Ho-Tai, which will be activated by a culminating participatory performance.

In Kookerville, our inner children are manifested in brightly colored creatures called Kookers, constructed with detachable parts such as instruments and masks to encourage public participation. The creatures’ large scale, bright colors, and whimsical demeanor spark spontaneous moments of human connection and social disruption through play and absurdity.

Ho-Tai conceived the ongoing project in 2015, as a temporary escape—a world of healing through joy, color, and imagination—and a catalyst for unleashing viewers’ creativity and self-expression. She offers the alternative world as an opportunity for visitors to reevaluate their own world and imagine new possibilities, however unexpected or “kooky” they may be.

On view in the sixth-floor Project Space, Kookerville is the fourth installation of the MAD Education Department’s Fellow Focus series. Dedicated to highlighting the work of alumni of the Van Lier Fellowship, part of MAD’s Artist Studios program, Fellow Focus invites these emerging artists to showcase the artwork they produced while in residence at the Museum. Funds for the Van Lier Fellowship are provided by the New York Community Trust Van Lier Fellowship Program, which supports talented, culturally diverse, economically challenged young people who are seriously dedicated to careers in the arts.

Lexy Ho-Tai is an interdisciplinary artist working primarily with found and recycled materials using traditional craft techniques. As a teaching artist, she emphasizes collaboration, engagement, and participatory projects as integral to her practice. Interested in the intersection between art making and social change, she explores themes of human connectivity and female empowerment as well as narratives of the inner child to produce work that is humorous, playful, and interactive. Ho-Tai earned a BFA in Fashion Design from Parsons School of Design and also studied textiles at Central Saint Martins, London.

Kookerville is organized by Cathleen Lewis, Vice President of Education and Programs, and Marissa Passi, Coordinator of Public Programs, for the MAD Education Department.