A Moveable Musical Village with Artist Delaney Martin

dulaneyThis will make your day and remind you what creativity can do to lift the spirit in hard times. New Orleans artists are using salvaged materials to build mobile houses that are also musical instruments.

 Delaney Martin is Artistic Director of Dithyrambalina and Co-founder of New Orleans Airlift.  Over the past decade she lived, studied and worked in New York, New Orleans, Los Angeles, and London, frequently working in collaborations with fellow artists, musicians and performers.  She continues to oversee the creative side of Dithyrambalina, a project she conceived & implemented. Delaney co-founded New Orleans Airlift desiring to give back to the post-Katrina city.

Food For Thought & Conversation

  • Creativity comes in many forms– cooking, exploring, problem solving, flower arranging, gardening, wood carving, strategizing, home décor, fashion, and so many more. What realm is your creativity in?
  • If you were going to design a project based on an art form—musical, artistic, creative writing, or other–for your community, what would it look and sound like, what purpose would it have, .where would you host it in your city, what partners would you bring in, what  artists would  you invite, from what arts people and other community members would  you seek advice?
  • Delaney’s work creates a playful connection for people to music while making the house, itself, a musical experience.  Her musical architecture is refreshing in that the house has “no instrument rules, which is very liberating”.  Please share your experience favorable or unfavorable with musical instruments and your reaction to the musical architecture as found in Delaney’s work.
  • For information on upcoming New Orleans Airlift events, visit www.neworleansairlift.org.


  • Other cities have also hosted Music Boxes to bring their community together. One example is Sulphur Springs community in Tampa, FL, which was presented by University of South Florida Contemporary Art Museum in collaboration with New Orleans Airlift.
  • The arts are a powerful conduit for mainstreaming environmental, economic and social issues. There are various ways you can support artists in your community, who are being societal change agents through their work.  (1) Show up at their Spoken Word, theatre performances, concerts and art shows. (2) Organize a performance, concert or art exhibit for artists that are change agents.
  • Advocate for local museums to follow the example of those that are mounting shows that urge visitors to become agents for change. For example, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston in February 2017 exhibited a rotation of posters “Political Intent”  from its collection by the Guerrilla Girls, feminist activist arts’ groups, whose members are anonymous. The exhibit offers commentary on gender and racial discrimination and observations on topics like homelessness. Art Works for Change in Oakland asks museum to play a role in outreach and utilizes activist groups that already exist in the community in their exhibits.
  • In Philadelphia, the Barnes Foundation showcased more than 50 international artists engaged with communities in their “Person of  the Crowd:The Contemporary Art of Flanerie” in 2017. The artists touched on issues of gentrification, gender politics, globalization, racism and homelessness. It also included a series of performances on city streets, billboards and street poster projects. They also worked alongside Philadelphia teenagers to create videos documenting their experiences, inspired by visits to the city’s public spaces.
  • Invite friends, colleagues or community members to view this video with you and host a conversation.
This is a traditional Christmas favorite in New Orleans A mirliton (locally pronounced mel-a-tawn) is a small, pale green, pear-shaped gourd with a funky little puckered end that resembles a Muppet's grin.  They are more commonly know as chayotes outside of south Louisiana.  Like any squash, they can be fried, baked, sauteed, pickled, creamed or pureed. If you can't find them, substitute yellow crookneck squash, zucchini or eggplant Tasso is a heavily seasoned, cured and smoked ham. If you can't find it, substitute chopped ham or any type of sausage. When stuffed, the subtle sweetness of the mirliton blends well with the delicate flavor of the shrimp and the smokiness of the tasso.

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