Maria Möller

Artistic Flint & Steel: Sparking Cross-disciplinary Combustion
Type of work
Visual Artist

Maria Möller collaborated with geographer Richard Campanella, and members of New Orleans Chinese American community to symbolically excavate the city’s forgotten and demolished Chinatown. Oral histories, photography and map-making combined to create temporary installations on sites in the Central Business District where the largest Chinatown in the Southeastern United States stood until the late 1930s. These installations asked passersby to contemplate the layers of lived experience that form the bedrock of a city and the ways that the urban planning decisions of one decade impact the subsequent city.

Using Campanella’s research as a guide, Möller created Lunar New Year installations on sites that were once part of Chinatown. The installations and the photographs created of them reference the layers of lived experience that form the bedrock of a city: a unique cultural enclave, urban development, urban decay, and then urban development once again. The exhibit’s opening reception included a standing room only presentation by Möller and Campanella and a short walking tour of the places that once were part of NOLA’s Chinatown. More than 150 people attended the presentations, approximately one-third from the Chinese community. The crowd was delighted by the stories of a 93-year old resident from the original Chinatown.

Maria Möller is a Philadelphia-based artist whose socially-engaged work distills narrative from fact and interprets how history and place can reflect our innermost longings and collective hopes. Rooted in collaboration, her work includes site-specific installations, participatory projects, and community-based events.

“As an artist who usually works in cities and with people, it can be hard to find an artist residency that allows me access to that which informs my practice while also giving me the quiet, contemplative space that all artists need from time to time. A Studio in the Woods’ Flint and Steel residency did just that for me. “ – Maria Möller

“My collaboration with artist Maria Möller helped bring the history and geography of New Orleans’ Chinatown to new light and new audiences.” – Richard Campanella