Maria Molteni


Maria Molteni, MA | sculpture, murals, installations
AB Exorcism! Applied Action Painting and Inverted Arenas
Reception: 6-8pm, Thursday, March 7th
Exhibition runs through March 23rd, 2019
Gallery Hours: Tuesdays – Fridays 12-5pm | Saturdays 1-4pm
EXCEPTION: Saturday, March 16th open 2:30-4pm

AB Exorcism! Applied Action Painting and Inverted Arenas
 is a new exhibition featuring the work of PlatteForum Resident Artist, Maria Molteni and PlatteForum’s ArtLab high school interns. During her seven-week residency, Molteni has presented on many overlapping social justice and art historical movements, particularly the Post-war and Cold-war eras when Abstract Expressionism re-centered the focus of art world from Europe to the United States. Abstract Expressionism, also called AB EX or action painting championed individual, creative, emotional expression and often saw the final painted product as the mere residue of a process.

Staging both individualized and collective abstract drawing/painting exercises (named by Maria and the interns “AB Exorcism!”), the ArtLab interns practiced ecstatic painting processes that engaged the whole space, inside a fabric-lined action painting arena for interns to freely test painting techniques and original fabricated tools.

This painted fabric has been cut up and sewn into sports-wear garments, recalling the AB EX/paint-stroke pattern motifs found in 1980s & 90s athletic apparel. The final garment-paintings will reflect the aesthetic identity of the interns’ teams, and also reflect the spirit of DIY craft as a pushback on the global textile/sweatshop industry created by brands such as Nike.

The exhibition AB Exorcism! Applied Action Painting and Inverted Arenas will feature these garment-paintings, found-object sculptures and residual artifacts from the interns’ performative process. It will also include new works made my Maria during personal studio hours as she reflects on the interconnectedness of material culture, athletic and textile industries and global politics. Reflecting on her residency time, Maria states:

“It’s been really nice to have a large, flexible space to work in. It’s helped me to expand the scale of some work and shift my process between working with the ArtLab interns and by myself. As a teaching artist, I find the PlatteForum teens to be so creatively advanced and intellectually mature. I often work with a wide range of age groups, from very young children to college students, but here I can dive deeper into complex intellectual and emotional content with young people that I might save for the college level.”

More About The Exhibition:

Harold Rosenberg coined the phrase “Action Painting” in 1952 to describe a loose, gestural Abstract Expressionist painting style. When artists like Pollock placed their works on the floor and engaged their whole bodies in a performative painting process, he claimed that the canvas became “an arena in which to act.”
This post-war movement shifted the international center of the art world to the US for the first time and championed emotional expression of mainly white men. We now know that the CIA funded & exported major international exhibitions of Abstract Expressionist artworks as American individualist propaganda during the Cold War.
By the time the Berlin Wall fell, painting was thought by many to be dead, but the active/athletic-wear industry, pioneered by Nike in the late 60s and 70s, had begun to appropriate gestural action painting motifs in their garments. The iconic painterly SWOOSH was designed by Carolyn Davidson in 1971, but such garments continued to be made by exploited workers in sweatshops.
Resident Artist Maria Molteni has been working the ArtLab teens for the last six weeks, unpacking & dismantling the histories of these intersecting arenas. They built their own white cube arena inside the the space and filled it with the work of artists and ideas that have been historically excluded. During this time, Molteni and the interns talked a lot about how one can incorporate ideas and processes in one’s daily life, all the while being critical of them. Together, they worked to EXORCISE the toxic demons of the past and EXERCISE their abilities to express difficult feelings through art. They slung and splashed onto the walls collaboratively, using implements that they created from athletic equipment & traditional painting tools.
The teams created playful, humorous identities and “un-branding” schemes, transforming the enormous paintings into wearable athletic uniforms, further emphasizing the relationship of painting to the body. They then created the uniforms themselves and re-activated conversations about action, art & the arena.
 About the Artist

Maria Molteni is a Boston-based multimedia artist, educator and organizer, originally from Nashville, TN. Having completed rigorous studies in drawing, painting and printmaking, her practice sprung from roots in observation and formalism. It has grown to incorporate performance, research, collaboration and social engagement. While interested in post-industrial popular culture, she remains critical of a polarized society that promotes consumerism and spectatorship over participation. Molteni enjoys problem solving via traditional methods of production, introducing radical or absurdist designs as unifying, aesthetic solutions. She also takes interest in standardized systems that influence ritual in everyday functionality. From fiber to found-object sculpture, movement to publication, she employs tactile and tactical processes to explore contemporary art, craft, urban planning, sport, feminism, and spiritualism. In recent works, she playfully imagines being a PE coach at Black Mountain College.

Using grassroots & DIY creative projects as tools, Molteni’s work has been replicated internationally by organizers and educators alike. In the last 2 years she’s worked with over 200 youth & teens from 12 Boston neighborhoods as an Artist in Residence for the MFA Boston & the City of Boston. Together they realized elaborate museum & public installations that address social justice in the context of community basketball and the global textile industry. The New Craft Artists in Action collective, which she found in 2010, was invited to share their work with the Congressional Maker Caucus on Capitol Hill in 2016. This past summer they traveled to Croatia to collaborate with Queer Sport, Split. Molteni has completed Fellowships at Vermont Studio Center (Johnson, VT), Elsewhere Living Museum (Greensboro, NC), Zamboanga Hace (Philippines), Mildred’s Lane (Beach Lake, PA), PS1 MoMA Studios (LIC, NY), the Berwick Research Institute’s Bumpkin Island Art Encampment (Boston Harbor, MA), and sübSamsøn (Boston, MA). She has exhibited in many local and regional spaces- such as Space Gallery, Grin Gallery, Harvard’s Carpenter Center for Visual Arts, Fuller Craft Museum, ICA Boston- as well as nationally and internationally- at NGBK Gallery (Berlin), Global Committee (Brooklyn), The Residential (Des Moines), Université Laval (Québec City), Otis College of Art and Design (LA, CA), Center for Craft, Creativity and Design (Asheville, NC), Utah MOCA (SLC), Museum of Design (Atlanta), and the Mattress Factory (Pittsburgh, PA).

Our Resident Artist program is generously supported by OZ Architecture

image: on left, Xanayia McKinney, 2019 ArtLab Intern
on right, Helen Frankenthaler, 1956