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Group of people pose, some with arms, in front of an art installation at the MoMA
YAI Arts pose with CBS Reporter Dave Carlin and cameraman Kevin at the MoMA.

YAI Arts’ exhibition I’m a Monster, I’m a Flower, I’m Everything at Once at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is teaching us all how to embrace our inner alter ego.

“We were inspired to create a show about monsters because monsters have so much in common with artists,” said Priscilla Frank, YAI Arts Supervisor. “They resist what is normal and expected. They bring fantasy to familiar spaces. They laugh in the face of fear. And they fiercely protect their own.”

On September 22, YAI artists will lead a free, all ages, drop-in workshop at the museum for art enthusiasts who are interested in sketching and making monster masks. The artists also created an interactive museum guide to activate the space and get viewers' imaginations cranking.     

Through drawing, painting, costuming, sculpture, puppetry, and more, the artists externalized their interior worlds and communicated lived perspectives that are often silenced and ignored. Their exhibition, open until September 30, is a collaboration with Access Programs at MoMA and teaching artist Lexy Ho-Tai. 

“My monster Morty is a Wall Street broker from the planet Shady. He wants to go to Wall Street and be the best broker he can like his idol Gordon Gekko,” said Jimmy Tucker, one of the YAI artists whose work is on display at MoMA. 

The artists’ creative practices were bolstered by bi-weekly sessions with MoMA’s Access Programs. Exploring MoMA’s collection sparked dialogues on identity, disguise, surrealism, and the grotesque. Artworks by Leonora Carrington, Frida Kahlo, Guadalupe Maravilla, and Joseph Cornell roused the artists’ imaginations and influenced their organically evolving processes. 

“Sometimes as an artist it is important to let people know what you're thinking when you're making art,” said Tucker. “Sometimes when I'm having a bad day, like having anxiety about a situation or overthinking, I put those feelings into the artwork because it helps me to calm down.” 

"We hope the show inspires viewers to realize the many identities and possibilities that reside inside each of us,” said Frank. “We all have the possibility to awaken a new monster inside of us and follow them where they lead.” 

Watch the CBS feature story on the exhibition.