Detail of Applaud All Songs with full view inset, 2020
silkscreened paper, fabric, and canvas cutouts mounted on canvas, 56 x 40 inches
Lanzetta: A Passion for Nature
In 1918 my grandfather, Salvatore Lanzetta, left Castelvetere sul Calore, Provincia di Avellino, and arrived at Ellis Island, alone, an 18-year-old with no English, little money, and less education. I can’t imagine what courage that took. A stonemason by trade, he found employment in the industrial mill city of Waterbury, Connecticut. There, he met my American-born grandmother, Anna, the daughter of another Italian immigrant. Salvatore toiled his whole life in factories. He never really learned to speak much English and never bought a car, but he died with money in the bank, owning outright a three-family home.
Embedded in this classic American immigrant story was the heart and soul of Italianità. No one ever told me art was important; they just demonstrated it. My grandmother crocheted finely bordered handkerchiefs, antimacassars, and bedspreads. My grandfather, an accomplished amateur photographer, developed in his basement the formal family portraits he sent back to Italy. His endless, multicourse Sunday dinners were a celebration of everything homemade, including the wine, while Enrico Caruso‘s operatic tenor filled the air.
A passion for nature is the most direct artistic inheritance from my grandfather. As we worked together in his garden, I learned every vegetable name in dialetto. I drew plants and flowers as a kid and have continued since then. Nature as symbol and inspiration has been a persistent, significant theme in my work. The south-facing perennial garden I cultivate at my studio in Long Island City links my art to a larger world. While providing organic references for my work, the garden also embodies my family history. Hostas, hyacinths and forsythia bushes, transplanted from my grandfather’s garden, rebloom every year, celebrating the unending continuity of family and nature.
Lanzetta's studio garden in Long Island City, Queens
Inside the studio with work in progress
Margaret Lanzetta at Kenise Barnes Fine Art, Larchmont, New York, with Flaneur, Trade and Belief, and Applaud All Songs