Monika Wuhrer is the founder and executive director of Open Source Gallery and KoKo NYC. Originally from Austria, she received her MFA in sculpture from the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. Monika founded Open Source Gallery in 2007. She has given talks at NURTUREart, Rutgers University and Hunter College. She has received awards and grants from the Austrian Cultural Forum, Austrian Federal Chancellery, Puffin Foundation, Brooklyn Arts Council and the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs. Monika has exhibited in the US, Norway, Austria, Italy, Thailand, Finland, France, Switzerland, and Japan.
Lea Bender’s work reflects her passion for the use of creativity and play to promote learning and personal development and to encourage new ways of interacting with our environment and communities. Her background in performance has ranged from avant-garde theater to indie film to circus. In addition to her role as Arts Education Program Director at KoKo NYC Lea also teaches in the Ethics for Children program at the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture and is certified Yoga instructor with weekly classes at Jaya Yoga Center.
Marley Silverman is originally from Boulder, Colorado where she got her Bachelor’s degree in Art History. She has recently moved to New York after living in Belgium for two and half years, where she got her Master’s degree in Cultural Studies. Her position as Arts Administrator for KoKo NYC coincides perfectly with her interest in public and community art, as well as learning how to make art more accessible to a wider audience.
David Lower graduated from SUNY Binghamton with a BA in philosophy in 2008. Since then, he has spent 5 years working with special needs students. He worked for two years as a certified para at Adelphi Academy, and three years as a Special Ed teacher at the Association for Metro Area Autistic Children (AMAC). Recently, David left law school in order to go back to teaching. David is currently pursuing a Masters in Special Education at CUNY Hunter.
ANDREW J. HAUNER
Andrew Jan Hauner is an art educator and artist. A native New Yorker born to Czech émigrés, he pursued his higher education in universities and an art academy in Prague. Andrew holds a BFA in Photography, a BA in Romance Languages & Literature and an MFA with an added practicum-based concentration in Art Education. He has worked as a museum educator at the Brooklyn Children's Museum in their Sensory Room. He is also a Wertheim Study scholar-in-residence at the New York Public Library, researching arts-based learning and feminist pedagogy.
Mardea McCrumada started her career as a Youth Empowerment Specialist when she was hired as a Youth Counselor and Art Educator for a sustainable arts class through SoBRO in the South Bronx . Mardea specializes in children and young adults from marginalized backgrounds using her wholesome and holistic approach to uplift and inspire kids to create. Mardea graduated from the School of Visual arts with a major in digital film. She presently works as a Program Facilitator/ Teaching Artist for Brooklyn Public Library and also teaches BitBots here at Koko NYC! In her free time she volunteers at The Whitney and New York Cares. Mardea is always looking for ways to uplift and improve the future of underprivileged children.
Freddy Poey received his BFA in Film Production from the college of Motion Picture Arts at Florida State University. Two years ago he moved to New York to continue filmmaking and writing. He is thrilled to be working as an Arts educator at KoKo NYC and loves every single minute of it.
Matt Voor holds a BFA from Florida State University in Art History & Film. After moving to New York, he produced art for several commercial and independent films before deciding to transition into teaching. His primary focus, as both an artist and a human, has always been creating a better future- and what better way to do so than teaching kids how to create?
Elizabeth Tolson is an Expanded Media Artist and Educator whose work explores the boundaries of art, technology, and feminism. Through an alchemy of artistic skills honed during life and scholastic experiences, she brings important social issues front and center and generates real discussion. Elizabeth holds a BFA from Alfred University, and an MFA in Design and Technology from Parsons. She is currently an Artist in Residence at ProjectArt for their Art & Social Justice Residency at the Bushwick Library. Elizabeth began teaching with KoKo NYC in 2016.
Alexander Khost has been a young people's civil rights advocate for the past twenty-five years as an educator and as a father. He is the co-founder of Voice of the Children, a young people's civil rights advocacy organization; is the co-founder of play:groundNYC (http://play-ground.nyc/), a junkyard playground for children in New York City; and was the founder of the Teddy McArdle Free School, a democratic school in New Jersey. He has an MFA from Parsons School of Design, the New School University; a BA from Mason Gross, Rutgers University; and he is a certified K-12 fine art teacher in New York, where he now works as a facilitator at Brooklyn Apple Academy.
Gabino Abraham Castelán is an artist and educator based in New York City. Castelán's art practice includes multi-media installations, object making, interior space design, and critical engagement with many publics. In 2015 Castelán founded Cultural Workers, a platform for art, culture and interior design. He completed his MFA from Hunter College in 2017, was a participant of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in the Summer of 2014. As an educator, he has worked with young people as part of the Joan Mitchell Foundation and Creative Art Works education teams.
Yoni Kallai is an international circus performer, a teacher and a child at heart. In addition to KoKo classes, Yoni works as the Head Playworker at play:ground NYC’s adventure playground on Governor’s Island. As a former construction worker he brings his extensive knowledge and experience as a builder to his classes at KoKo NYC.
Katya Khan is a landscape designer and an interdisciplinary artist, specializing in public space transformation and collaborative building. In addition to her personal art practice, she has been working with children in traditional classroom settings, art studios, and at project-specific outdoor sites. Katya believes in children’s imagination, innovation, resourcefulness, and ability. She enjoys providing opportunities for children to use and express these abilities through the projects she designs for them.
Yasmeen Abdallah is an artist and educator that examines aspects of history, ephemera, tangibility and space. She is particularly drawn to discarded objects because of the potential she believes they still possess. This excitement is shared with her students, encouraging them to consider the limitless possibilities of these materials using their imaginations, and the wonderful state of play and experimentation that art-making can be. Yasmeen holds a Masters of Fine Arts from Pratt Institute, and Bachelors degrees in Art and Anthropology from the University of Massachusetts, Boston. She chose to be an art educator because visual art has a truly unique ability to communicate, regardless of global and linguistic differences. The transformative magic of recognizing the potential of discarded objects helps students develop an appreciation and respect for themselves, and their peers, in a nurturing space. Yasmeen believes in art that is environmentally conscious and stimulates creativity through inspiration drawn from our surroundings. Her goal is for young artists to see the potential in all things and people, and the realization that anything and everything is possible.