Maria Molteni

If all this sounds disjointed and arbitrary, Molteni charmingly and subversively, crafts in the most literal way, an approach that asks us to think deeper about the images around us.

On Friday’s assembly, Molteni shared some of her recent collaborative projects, one in Dorchester, Massachusetts and the other in Split, Croatia. As Boston’s artist in residence, she worked with local youths from ages 5 to 16, to reimagine an underutilized and shabby local basketball court in Dorchester's Perkins Community Center in Harambee Park. Each student submitted drawings of their dream court with ingredients from foursquare to hopscotch to rainbows. Chalkboards surrounded the park so the neighbors could doodle on demand and add their ideas to the court. The final product is a 20,000-foot court, chock full of color and fanciful design that engages all the locals of all ages to use the park.
As a former athlete, Molteni wants to redefine the culture of athletics and art. While walking through various cities, Molteni noticed that many basketball courts have hoops that are missing the net. She started the New Crafts Artists in Action (NCAA), a cooperative, whose charge it is to finger knit whimsical basketball nets in playful colors. What she noticed was that more people started playing in the public spaces once the handcrafted nets were installed.
Molteni took this crafty approach while in Split, Croatia. She shared at the assembly that many playgrounds in Split are unwelcoming and ripe territory for her artwork.  She observed that most of the graffiti in Split featured a logo of Hajduk which she discovered was a local soccer team. Looking into its history, she found that Hajduk was organized in 1911 by idealistic college students who wanted to form a team that represented the best of its people with an emphasis on friendship and courage. Through the decades, Hajduk morphed into overly aggressive and ultra-nationalistic team.  Molteni took this as a challenge to reinvigorate Haduk with its original intent, began crocheting the Hajduk logo in old-timey granny squares into soccer nets and installed the empty soccer frames with her creation.
In this week’s workshops at KO, students focused on silk screening with Molteni. She asked students to bring in patriotic garments to her class festooned with stars and stripes patterns. While in the class she asked the students to take a deeper look into their garments to uncover where they were made: El Salvador, China, Mexico, and Indonesia. Part of the exercise required students to research the flags of those nations and to understand the graphic abstract and figurative designs employed. Students silkscreened their own graphic motif and developed a visual vocabulary to borrow from one another keeping in mind the visual story they were telling with their flag. The underlying meaning of the project was to explore globalization, relationships, and sharing and to understand that all countries are part of something bigger than themselves.
Molteni said the most rewarding part of her work is when she is able to convince doubtful students through her projects, especially her Dorchester basketball park takeover, that anything is possible. “I want young people to think how they can make the world the way they want it to be. Let’s make someone smile, pay attention and change the system. Collaborate and see how many people you can get on board,” she said.
 
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Located in West Hartford, CT just steps from Blue Back Square, Kingswood Oxford is a private school inspiring co-ed day students in grades 6-12 with a college preparatory curriculum. Empowered students become clear confident communicators, resourceful problem-solvers, and ethical leaders. KO: where unlimited potential meets endless opportunities.
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