MOCA Commissions Local Artist Morrisa Maltz to Design a Line of Urs Fischer-Inspired “Mofones”

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The fruit- and bread-themed iPhone holders will debut at a special event April 21 at MOCA Grand Avenue in conjunction with the opening of the Urs Fischer exhibition

The DeerSkullfone is made with a genuine deer skull

I have always been interested in different ways to express myself," said Maltz. "Mofones combine sculpture, fashion, and artistic collaboration -- all of which I admire and respect.

Los Angeles-based artist and designer Morrisa Maltz will curate a unique performance event at MOCA Grand Avenue, in conjunction with the public opening of the Urs Fischer exhibition, to celebrate the marriage between art and technology, as demonstrated by her “Mofones” on April 21 from 2:00-5:00 p.m. A line of iPhone holders designed exclusively by local artists, Mofones are contemporary art pieces for your iPhone that are fun, funky and sometimes completely ironic.

The addition of Maltz’s Mofones is clearly part of the new direction the museum has taken under the current director Jeffrey Deitch. This fusion of art, design, fashion and pop culture is embraced and celebrated by Maltz, which is undoubtedly demonstrated through her designs for the cell phone holders.

At the MOCA Grand Avenue special event, Mofone Emotional Moment, visitors are invited to call family and friends to tell them how much they mean to them using the latest Mofones, including a line of cases featuring plastic fruits and breads influenced by Urs Fischer’s work. There will also be a portion of this event where visitors have the opportunity to engage in this activity live on KCHUNG radio.

MOCA Grand Avenue will also host an opening event to officially introduce Mofones to the MOCA Store on April 25 from 6:00-8:00 p.m.

A graduate of Columbia University with a bachelor’s degree majoring in fine arts, Maltz is better known as a video and performance artist; however, she was inspired with the idea for Mofones while working in an Apple store after college. As someone who always added artistic flair to her own cell phone (initially a Razor phone), she was surprised by the lack of creative accessories for the iPhone. After friends, strangers and eventually local stores showed interest, Maltz decided she had to act.

The first series she designed featured recycled old rotary phone parts to give the iPhone a retro look. Before she knew it, Urban Outfitters and select Nordstrom locations began selling her phone holders. As interest continued to grow, she designed even edgier Mofones that border on fine-art with one-of-a-kind sculptures made of animal skulls, deer antlers, two-by-fours and Lego parts.

As a result, the company offers several different pricing points to give both designers and shoppers options -- ranging from custom-made designs, to limited edition works, to more affordable but still unique mass-produced holders.

In 2012, Maltz teamed up with friend, Tommy Heitkamp, who brought his experience in the world of natural history to the Mofone project. His skill working with fossils, minerals, and other bizarre materials -- usually used for fossil preparation -- has lead to a productive and eccentric collaboration. Heitkamp’s first design was the Fossilfishfone, a Mofone made of a 51-million-year-old Priscacara fish fossil. From there, the two have collaborated on a whole line of natural history-themed Mofones, including the use of 350-million-year-old trilobites, which are extinct Paleozoic ocean arthropods.

Maltz’s goal for the company is to have a constantly shifting list of local artists designing Mofones.

“I have always believed that it is possible to be as creative and ‘out there’ as you want and still be a successful artist,” says Maltz. “There are plenty of companies and individuals that want to support local artists; you just have to give them the opportunity.”

Maltz’s philosophy to help foster local art communities is very present throughout her entire body of work. Beginning at the end of April, she will host a number of events in a downtown Los Angeles studio she calls “Attic Underground.” Maltz, who is opening up the space to artists free of charge, plans to have monthly events varying from highly curated performances and productions to movie screenings. Most events will be donation based, with a nominal suggested donation for entry and/or participation.

Maltz’s idea for the space is to create an environment that merges art, theater, performance, etc., and promotes appreciation for all types of work. This goal is clearly demonstrated in the upcoming events at Attic Underground, which are scheduled for April 27 and May 18.

The first event, MADcabaret, is a “Vaudeville” themed event that will include puppeteers, comedians and other artists. Maltz, who is serving as the curator of the production, also designed all the visuals as well as the set. The second event is scheduled for May 18. Jeff King, a writer for the new CBS show “Elementary,” will host an interactive murder mystery performance.

“I want to create events that entertain a variety of audiences, are not easily labeled, and are extremely cross-disciplinary,” stated Maltz. “I'm also very interested in giving individuals the freedom to demonstrate their creativity by providing a platform that enables them to challenge themselves and their art without fear of judgment.”

An interdisciplinary artist herself, Maltz also directs and creates digital art. Most recently she completed a short film in collaboration with Lauren Lillie called “The Caretaker," which stars Amy Ferguson from the “Social Network,” among other films. It’s no surprise then, that Maltz’s work is influenced and inspired by artists across a number of disciplines, including Coco Fusco, David Lynch, Maya Deren, Tim Burton and Alexander McQueen.

“I have always been interested in different ways to express myself,” said Maltz. “This is one of the reasons I love the Mofone project. It’s definitely a different way of making art, and it combines many things I admire and respect -- sculpture, fashion, and collaboration with talented people from different backgrounds.”

Maltz’s latest Mofones designs, including the Urs Fischer-inspired cases, will be available for purchase at the MOCA Store following the April 21 and April 25 events.

For additional information on artist Morrisa Maltz, please visit

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Melinda Peffer
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