• Image about Katie Sokoler

One artist has a mission to keep New York young — one daydream at a time.

NOT ALL CHILDREN grow up. Katie Sokoler, who’s all of five-foot-one and has only 23 years of smile wrinkles, looks grown up, sort of. She certainly speaks like an adult, using words such as organic and escapism. But as soon as she bounces toward you — her sprightly summer dress dancing around her knees — and welcomes you into her apartment, you know that the kid in Sokoler has chosen Neverland.

As you cross the threshold into her life-size coloring book (read apartment) on Humboldt Street in Brooklyn, New York, you walk past a swirling current of colorful construction paper tacked across her living-room wall; what Sokoler calls “fun drawers,” which are brimming with sequins, cotton balls, glue, and action figures; and a giant plastic turkey perched atop the fridge. You immediately feel as if you’ve stumbled into a kindergarten class — a really, really cool kindergarten class. But for Sokoler, this is just her life.

The idea was simple. It came to her as she sat on the subway wondering, What is everyone around me thinking? Was the woman next to her heartbroken? Was the businessman across the aisle longing for love? Sokoler, a photographer, decided to fill those unknown thoughts with images. She began by cutting photos into clouds and pasting them around her neighborhood. Then, she squatted spylike behind cars and waited, camera in hand, to capture the moment someone walked under one. She caught a middle-aged man daydreaming about a cupcake and a poodle thinking about a cat. She caught commuters dreaming about sleeping, flying, and girls in bikinis. But this real-life comic book was just the beginning of her simple and endearingly childish approach to street art.