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MAD Announces Fall 2017 Artist Studios Program Residents and Van Lier Fellow

Featuring artists Mimi Bai, Lexy Ho-Tai, Amir R. Hariri, Johannah Herr, Fabiola Jean-Louis, Luam Melake, and Anna Riley

New York, NY (September 28, 2017)

The Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) announces the Fall 2017 session of its Artist Studios Program and Van Lier Fellowship. The selected artists, who will work in MAD’s sixth-floor open studios from September 26, 2017 through January 28, 2018, are Mimi Bai, Lexy Ho-Tai, Amir R. Hariri, Johannah Herr, Fabiola Jean-Louis, Luam Melake, and Anna Riley.

“Research plays a large part in the practices of the incoming artists. From exploring the history of propaganda to examining the composition of lime, these new artists are invested in using critical issues, materials, and processes to interpret the world around them,” said Cathleen Lewis, Vice President of Education and Programs at MAD. “This makes for thoughtful conversations between visitors and artists.”

“All of the incoming artist are storytellers,” added Carli Beseau, Manager of Artist Studios and Docent Programs. “They are interested in personal histories, the feelings evoked by materials, and the lasting impressions that objects make. Their practices are deeply connected to community, and they are all excited to converse with MAD's diverse visitors.”

Launched nine years ago by the Museum’s Education Department, the Artist Studios Program assigns studio space to seven emerging to midcareer artists and designers for a four-month period, during which visitors to MAD are invited to observe and interact with the artists at work. A diverse committee of Museum staff members and outside professionals in the fields of art, craft, and design selects six residents to work at MAD one day per week, as well as one full-time Van Lier Fellow, whose fellowship is funded by the New York Community Trust. Introduced to the Artist Studios Program in 2016, the Van Lier Fellowship provides talented young people from historically underrepresented populations who are dedicated to a career in the arts with financial support and a dedicated studio at MAD for full-time use.

The MAD Artist Studios Program is both a platform for creativity and an innovative model of engagement that has served nearly 150 artists and designers. The studios are open to the public; the residents welcome dialogue around concepts, materials, and processes, and visitors are encouraged to spend time in the studios exchanging ideas. This is an exciting chance for museumgoers to meet working artists, and a remarkable opportunity for the residents to actively participate in the public’s engagement with their work.

During each Artist Studios Program session, some of the artist residents elect to host a MADmakes workshop. MADmakes is a drop-in, hands-on educational series that invites visitors to learn the artists’ own methods and test their skills at art making and creative production. The series engages visitors in various techniques and ideas, facilitating greater understanding and appreciation of skill-based practices. Great for visitors of all ages, backgrounds, and interests, MADmakes workshops are free with Museum admission. They will take place as follows:

Thursday, October 19, 6 pm
Thursday, November 9, 6 pm
Thursday, December 7, 6 pm
Thursday, January 11, 6 pm

The Artist Studios Talk and Closing Reception will take place Saturday, January 27, at 3:00 pm.

Lexy Ho-Tai
Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday

Lexy Ho-Tai is an interdisciplinary artist who is interested in the intersection between art making and social change. She explores human connectivity, female empowerment, and inner child narratives to produce work that is humorous, playful, and interactive. She works primarily with found and recycled materials using traditional craft techniques.

As a Van Lier Fellow at MAD, Ho-Tai will continue her interactive, participatory, and multidisciplinary project entitled KOOKERVILLE. Kookerville is an imagined world created by Ho-Tai where one’s inner child is manifested into a brightly colored monster called a Kooker. Kookers have detachable parts such as instruments and masks to encourage public participation. Ho-Tai hopes that the Kookers help to break people from their daily routines and encourage spontaneous moments of joy, play, and connection.

Ho-Tai earned a BFA in Fashion Design from Parsons School of Design and also studied textiles at Central Saint Martins, London. For more information, please visit:

Fabiola Jean-Louis

Fabiola Jean-Louis’ work is an inquiry into social change as it relates to race. Her work speaks to the shocking treatment of blacks throughout history, yet it is also filled with a vision of hope, resilience, and justice for the future. Jean-Louis celebrates black and brown female bodies through haunting photographic essays and paper sculptures that are styled like the garments worn by female European nobility between the fifteenth and nineteenth centuries.

At MAD, Jean-Louis will continue her “Rewriting History” series by focusing on paper sculptures that are two-dimensional. These sculptures will remain completely white to invoke curiosity and conversation among guests. In this work, Jean-Louis is interested in exploring the feelings associated with seeing a previously worn, vintage garment and the connections these garments make with respect to human life, specifically black lives.

Jean-Louis attended Nova Southeastern University. For more information, please visit:

Amir R. Hariri

Amir Hariri’s sculptural practice attempts to expand upon the contemporary tradition of making and un-making and to expose the blurred line between evolution and decay. Looking to architecture under duress as inspiration, Hariri incorporates materials typically found in construction sites, such as clay, concrete, plaster, sand, and wood, to create work that is in a state of “in-betweenness.”

As a resident at MAD, Hariri will conduct a study of the Hudson Yards development area to the west of the Museum. From that study, Hariri will realize a deconstructed sculpture that attempts to understand this approach to urban renewal. The Museum’s extensive permanent collection and the MAD building itself, with its rich architectural history, will enhance this design approach.

Hariri earned a Master of Engineering from Cornell University and a BS in Architectural Engineering from the University of California, San Diego. For more information, please visit:

Anna Riley

Anna Riley’s practice is driven by in-depth research of materials. She works with common substances: glass, lime, and washing soda, to name a few. By creating or altering the circumstances of their manufacture—whether reversing the coloration in glass or making lime using antiquated burning methods—Riley seeks to highlight how materials and their role in our everyday culture are an active component of social life. Currently, her practice focuses on the history and production of lime.

In the MAD Artist Studios, Riley will continue to create thin sheets of lime. Using the mold and deckle process, she will sift sheets embedded with lime of various geologic origins with paper fibers to create structural and color variants. Riley is interested in using these thin, two-dimensional sheets to envelop three-dimensional space.

Riley earned a BFA in Glass with honors from Rhode Island School of Design. For more information, please visit:

Johannah Herr

Johannah Herr has always been deeply curious about how visual patterning impacts us culturally and politically. Using saturation—of color, pattern, and image density—as a strategy of seduction, Herr creates textile work that addresses larger societal issues such as consumerism, nationalism, state-sanctioned violence, and human trafficking.

While at MAD, Herr will explore Soviet and Japanese propaganda textiles to expand upon her series “Snuggies for the Revolution.” Through this project, she is reconsidering her interest in patterns and the historical role of textiles used for both political oppression and resistance movements. Herr will also continue her “Propaganda Poster” series, which uses holographic sign vinyl and gouache to examine the ways pattern and other optical devices are used to both dazzle and visually confuse.

Herr earned an MFA in Sculpture from Cranbrook Academy of Art and a BFA in Fine Arts from Parsons School of Design. For more information, please visit:

Luam Melake

Luam Melake’s recent studio practice is focused on handweaving mixed-media wall hangings, in which she explores the representation of emotional content through abstract compositions, textures, and materials that have strong associative powers. These materials range from common objects to industrial materials informed by her furniture design practice, such as metals, cement, and rubber.

As a resident at MAD, Melake aims to produce a series of four unique wall hangings that each represent a different emotional or narrative concept. One wall hanging will be produced for each month of the residency, based on a feeling or thought that dominated the preceding month. MAD visitors will help to inform Melake’s next work in the series through conversations about their associations with materials.

Melake earned a BA in Architecture with a minor in Art History at the University of California, Berkeley. For more information, please visit:

Mimi Bai

Mimi Bai’s work investigates how people experience and perform power at individual and interpersonal levels. Bai examines conflict, intimacy, and identity in relationships and then designs furniture to reflect and reshape our understanding of these relationships. Chairs are a recurring motif in Bai’s work because of their implicit reference to the body as well as their recognizable form and symbolic value.

At MAD, Bai will generate an inventory of chair models made of paper, wax, and Masonite. The models function as three-dimensional pictograms that the visitor can read, compose, and interpret. As part of her research, Bai will invite visitors to share their interpretations of the chairs and any connections they may make to their own experiences.

Bai is currently enrolled in the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program. She earned an MFA in Sculpture/Dimensional Studies from Alfred University and a BA in Sociology from Wesleyan University. For more information, please visit:

The Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) champions contemporary makers across creative fields and presents the work of artists, designers, and artisans who apply the highest level of ingenuity and skill. Since the Museum's founding in 1956 by philanthropist and visionary Aileen Osborn Webb, MAD has celebrated all facets of making and the creative processes by which materials are transformed, from traditional techniques to cutting-edge technologies. Today, the Museum's curatorial program builds upon a rich history of exhibitions that emphasize a cross-disciplinary approach to art and design, and reveals the workmanship behind the objects and environments that shape our everyday lives. MAD provides an international platform for practitioners who are influencing the direction of cultural production and driving twenty-first-century innovation, and fosters a participatory setting for visitors to have direct encounters with skilled making and compelling works of art and design. The Museum will be celebrating its Diamond Jubilee 60th Anniversary this year.

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