“Craftivism,” community-based art for social change, is the name of the game…well, that and basketball. The NCAA, the New Craft Artists in Action, led by captain Maria Molteni, is a collaborative team of artists who engage with community members, activists, and athletes to create public works of art. The result: colorful, structural, and hand woven basketball nets that are then fastened to bare and neglected hoops on public courts.
“NCAA,” as written in the collective’s mission, “addresses public space, diversity, collaboration, feminism, and interdisciplinary learning […] the form and function of the ‘street’ and the ‘domestic’ collide in hand-made tactical aesthetics that express dissidence and generate new approaches to public space.”
Since its debut in 2010, NCAA Net Works has travelled to cities across the nation, and across the globe, notably in South Africa, Hungary, and the Philippines. In each new location, the team works with members of the local community to create a plan of action to remedy what Maria calls “empty net syndrome.”
Originally from Nashville, Maria’s childhood interests balanced evenly between art and basketball. Though ultimately she pursued a BFA in painting from Boston University, her recollection of the power of athletics to foster and support community now deeply informs her creative practice.
Currently, Maria is instructing a January-term course at Harvard called “Activist to Craftivist: Knitting Urban Communities and Basketball,” where students not only learn about the intersections of art, athletics, and community action, but also have the opportunity to crochet and knit nets that will be included in the upcoming Creative Time exhibition Living As Form, which will be on exhibit at Harvard’s Carpenter Center in Spring 2014.
Learn more about Maria and the NCAA Networks on their website.