Maria Molteni (’06) turns community basketball courts into works of art, with vibrantly painted pavement and knitted hoops. Her work, VICE magazine says, “breathes life into neglected neighborhoods with color and whimsy.”
The courts are just one example of Molteni’s work, which includes installations, giant inflatable sculptures, and immersive interactive environments. Her influences defy easy categorization: performance art, puppetry, lucid dreaming, crocheting, community sports, the sea, insect mating patterns, and countless other interests whirl through her work.
WISEKNAVE Fine Art Documentation for Maria Molteni during Facebook Artist in Residence Program in Boston, Mass., in 2018.
Here’s how she answered CFA’s quick-fire questions:
Moment you realized you were an artist
Around age eight, I started telling people I planned to become an artist and pro basketball player.
Last thing you painted
A 40-foot-long commission in the Facebook Cambridge, Mass., office called Hoop Dreams that incorporates welded basketball hoops shaped like clouds. The phrase “hoop dreams” implies that playing the game might get one out of a hard situation, into a more celebrated life. I try to get people to think about athletics as something they can be passionate about all the time, whether or not they’re professional.
What inspired you to paint basketball courts?
I’m really into public space and the democracy and anarchy of community athletics, as opposed to corrupt corporate professional athletics. Public courts are a great place to ask neighbors to re-create the game according to their own visions and values.
Tormenta en la Cancha—Storming/Storm on the Court, in El Punto/The Point neighborhood of Salem, Mass.
Where can we encounter your work right now?
A rad witchy basketball court in Salem, Mass. I try to design courts with community members, and the youth were super excited about the idea of witchcraft. I thought it’d be cool to do a different take on it, rather than the old woman on the broomstick. I was trying to think of a gender-neutral witch who is a force of nature.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I’m the granddaughter of competitive square dancers and strawberry farmers.
Blank spot you’d love to paint
Boston City Hall plaza or the new basketball courts going into Lower Allston [in Boston].
If you hadn’t become an artist, you would have been…
An entomologist, geologist, or monk.
March 16, 2023
Designing for the Ice
October 11, 2022
October 8, 2021
Producing in Hollywood