Italianità: Contemporary Art Inspired by the Italian Immigrant Experience
Edited by Joanne Mattera
Italianità—Italianness—is the essence of Italian character. It is what defines us as a culture: the animated language, glorious food, unabashed emotion, and strength of family that springs from the boot in the Mediterranean and extends throughout the Italian Diaspora. It is the sprezzatura, the effortless grace, with which our Italianità is expressed. And, of course, it is the art, architecture, music, literature, and film that belong not just to us but to the world. Every ethnicity has its particular character. Ours is a bit more dramatic than most.
Fifty-nine artists—most Italian American, a few from throughout the Diaspora—have contributed to this anthology, sharing through their stories about how Italianità informs their art. Although we do not identify as artists tied to ethnicity, preferring to focus on genre, aesthetic, or medium, where we come from does inform us. We are painters and sculptors, photographers and storytellers. We are women and men, gay and straight, spanning an age range from Boomer to Gen X—descendants, for the most part, of the Mezzogiorno, that beautiful land blessed by the sun yet unable to sustain the hopes and dreams of the people who tried desperately to eke a life from it. Immigration to l’ameriga or elsewhere was their way out.
Italianità: Contemporary Art Inspired by the Italian Immigrant Experience grew out of the online project of the same name. Mattera curated and edited both projects to bring together the art and personal narratives of contemporary artists who came of age at a particular time in Italian American and Italian Diasporic history: post World War II and the decades immediately after. Fully of their time, these artists are nevertheless informed personally and creatively by an intimate connection to the language and traditions of their immigrant forebears.
“We carry the history of our families and our cultures in our psyches as well as our genes,” says B. Amore, who has traced the histories of seven generations of her family. Every artist has a compelling story to tell.
The 300-page volume features a Foreword by Dr. Joseph Sciorra, director of Academic and Cultural Programs at John D. Calandra Italian American Institute, a Queens College (CUNY) research institute, and includes an illustrated essay by the book's editor, Joanne Mattera.
Italianita: Contemporary Art Inspired by the Italian Immigrant Experiencewill be available in Summer 2023. A link to purchase it will be on this site as soon as the book is ready.
News of related exhibitions and events will also be posted here, so please return regularly to see what is planned.
The 59 participating artists are shown below. You can see their work on this website as well as new work in the forthcoming book.
When the book is available for purchase, a URL and a QR code will be posted here, along with a sneak peek of the book.
Well-Fed Artist Press is a small artist-run publishing company that produces artist catalogs and books. Joanne Mattera is the editor. Karen Freedman is the house designer. Printers for WFAP projects are Magcloud and BookBaby.