Italianità, Part 1: Immigration and Traditions from the Old Country


Part 2: Inside and Outside the Sphere of Ethnicity

Part 3: Essay: Two Worlds / Due Mondi
All images and essays (c) the individual artists unless otherwise noted

Don Porcaro, Talisman installation at the Visual Art Center of New Jersey, Summit, 2016; marble slate, limestone, and brass

Between 1880 and 1980, some 15 million Italians made new homes in North America, primarily the United States; in South America, primarily Argentina; and as far away as Australia. Wherever they settled, Italians maintained strong connections to the Old Country. In the United States, the American-born children and grandchildren wove their two cultures together as Italian Americans. 

Here in Part 1 we look at the work of artists whose aesthetic expression is inspired by the life and traditions of their Italian American experience.We start with immigration, family, language, and religion, moving on to the heritage of gardening, farming, cooking, and making. We come from woodworkers and blacksmiths, stonemasons and bricklayers, shoemakers and weavers, tailors and dressmakers, and legions of women whose skill in needlework beautified lives marked by hard work and the privations of The Great Depression. Am I romanticizing our heritage? Yes, surely, because there are also secrets—extramarital affairs, organized crime, betrayal, and the dark underside of the Catholic church—that threaded their way through so many lives. Our art is informed by all of it. Each artist is represented by images of her or his artwork and a personal text. There are many interwoven threads in these stories.

We begin with the artist B. Amore

(You will be able to scroll from artist to artist by clicking onto the name at the bottom of each post, or you may navigate from the sidebar left.)