There’s a term we often use about artists, and that is they are “universe makers.” Their art lives in its own place and time, own existence that doesn’t rely on any sort of contemporary influence or precursor. Trenton Doyle Hancock is literally the term, because his universe is so dense, so encrypted with his own myth-making, that it becomes engrossing in a way that you feel like you are immersed in 100 years of storytelling.

Mind of the Mound: Critical Mass, Hancock’s new, immense and interactive exhibition and installation at MASS MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts, fits into the museum is a way that is unique; it’s vast but intimate, experimental but with historical relevance. “I am, for reasons that I can’t quite explain, connected to these mysterious Mound creatures,” Hancock notes of the show. “I share a psychic bond with each Mound. I am ground control, and they are my satellites.” When Juxtapoz worked with Mr. Hancock during Juxtapoz x Superflat, it was obvious in his artist introduction: the work is part performance, comic book adventure, racial exploration, Garbage Pail Kids, Sun Ra blasting off to Saturn, most of all, a personal story. For Mind of the Mound: Critical Mass, which Hancock indeed calls the “critical mass” of his artistic vision, there are sculptures, toys, paintings, installations, or as the museum calls it, “art toy fair, part museum, and part theme park.” Perhaps most importantly, this is the work of a master at the height of his powers, a force to be reckoned with in contemporary art because he has no peers. In the idyllic setting at MASS MoCA, one of our great museums, Hancock has ingrained himself as a permanent staple of America’s expanding art lexicon. —Evan Pricco

Trenton Doyle Hancock was the cover of Juxtapoz January 2016.