Imagine fitting your entire house into a hallway. That was the goal of Dominique Moody, an assemblage artist, who built a 140-square-foot house and then took it on the road.
Her tiny masterpiece, the NOMAD 46, is parked at Xavier University’s Art Village, where Moody will live for the next few months. Students, staff, art lovers and Gert Town residents have the chance to admire and muse about Moody’s work, while visiting with her in her tiny home.
“It’s phenomenal; the most unique and detailed tiny house that I’ve seen,” said Lee Pera, who met Moody during a tiny house workshop in California. Pera came to New Orleans to see the finished product.
The NOMAD 46 is built of everyday objects serving unusual purposes. The shower rod in the bathroom is a car wheel rim. The windows are washing machine doors. Moody also uses natural elements like wood and sticks. The name NOMAD 46 refers to her family’s history of traveling: Xavier is her 46th address.
Despite the size of the house, it is fully functional. A sofa doubles as a bed. The lights and electrical appliances are solar powered and run on a 12-volt electrical system, similar to most cars. Moody has a cooktop, teapot, heater, and refrigerator. Lights above each window and along the beams of the ceiling create beautiful ambient lighting. With all the lights on at once, the system uses only about 100 watts, equivalent to a single lightbulb.
Water for the NOMAD's sink and shower is hand-pumped from a five-gallon storage tank, a laborious project that ensures that no water is wasted. Drinking water runs through a filter powered by gravity.
Every necessity that you would find in a standard home can be found in Moody’s tiny house.
“There’s no deprivation, only abundance,” Moody said.
The artist was born in Germany and moved to Pennsylvania with her family when she was 4. There she attended school and practiced illustration by drawing pictures of her eight siblings. At age 9, she was invited to attend a private art school, Cheltenham Center for the Arts in Pennsylvania — the first black student to attend.
When teachers saw her skills, she was placed in adult drawing classes. Moody received college-level experience at age 12 and graduated at 15, then enrolled in the Pratt Institute, a private art college in New York. She finished her first year, then moved to Los Angeles where the rest of her family lived.
In California, Moody earned a living building cottages with recycled materials. She went back to school when she was 30, at The University of California, Berkeley, to earn her art degree.
Although there are many tiny house owners, there aren’t many builders who are legally blind. Moody noticed her eyesight was deteriorating at 28. The condition, called macular degeneration, caused her to lose the ability to see details. This did not discourage her.
“My art does not come from my sight. My art comes from my vision,” Moody said. With the help of a few assistants to make certain measurements, Moody designed and built the structure where she lives today.
When Moody is ready to move on to the next location, she simply hires a driver to pull her house. She has lived in Los Angeles, where it was built, Santa Monica, beaches and deserts.
“It took four years to design, three years to build, and 30 years to dream,” Moody said.