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The Museum of Modern Art
Education Center, Mezzanine
The Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Education and Research Building
4 West 54 Street, New York
July 23, 2022 - September 30, 2022 
Opening Party on Saturday, July 23 from 1:00–3:00 pm

Over the past few months, while strolling through Central Park or power walking down Wall Street, you may have noticed the curious presence of  gorgeously hideous, mythic beings—a furry claw here, a slobbery tongue there. And if you hadn’t noticed, prepare to be awakened to the many creatures lurking within and around us. Here there be monsters, lovingly conjured and crafted by members of YAI Arts.

YAI Arts is a nonprofit offering full-time studio access and support to a passionate group of adult visual artists with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Through drawing, painting, costuming, sculpture, puppetry, and more, the artists externalize their interior worlds and communicate lived perspectives that are often silenced and ignored. Their upcoming exhibition, I’m a Monster, I’m a Flower, I’m Everything at Once is a collaboration with Access Programs at MoMA and teaching artist Lexy Ho-Tai.

As springtime blossomed, YAI artists gazed into the mirror and awakened their very own monster, each baptizing their beastly being with names, powers, fears, and desires. They embarked on a journey with their monstrous alter-egos: building masks and costumes from discarded materials, embodying the creatures with their own gestures and voices, and posing for portraits around New York City. An amorous goblin girl lounges in a rose garden while a two-headed ghoul munches on rainbow cake at The Plaza Hotel.

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.

The resulting exhibition is part bedroom, part garden, part portal to another world. Monsters live alongside mutant flowers and other hybrid creatures in a space dedicated to self expression, otherness, liberation, and fearlessness. A shrine to monsters and all they have to teach us, this body of work is a testament to the shapeshifting nature of identity and the exaltation of difference as beauty.

Kamana Shrestha

ABOUT YAI: Founded in 1957, YAI remains at the forefront of an extraordinary movement aimed at empowering people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. YAI and its network of affiliate agencies offer children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities a comprehensive range of services. YAI is committed to seeing beyond disability, providing opportunities for people to live, love, work, and learn in their communities. YAI’s 4,000 employees provide supportive housing, education, medical, dental, and mental health care, job training, community integration, and social enrichment for more than 20,000 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and their families, in New York, New Jersey, and California.