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Book details
  • Genre:ART
  • SubGenre:Collections, Catalogs, Exhibitions / Group Shows
  • Language:English
  • Pages:296
  • Hardcover ISBN:9798350712094


Contemporary Art Inspired by the Italian Immigrant Experience

by Joanne Mattera

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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, of course, it is the art, architecture, opera, 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. 
This dramatic character is expressed in "Italianità: Contemporary Art Inspired by the Italian Immigrant Experience." Fifty-nine artists—most Italian American, several from throughout the diaspora—are featured in the anthology, sharing through their stories how italianità informs their art. Fully of their time, they are nevertheless shaped 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, one of the artists featured in the book.
The artists in "Italianità: Contemporary Art Inspired by the Italian Immigrant Experience," all with significant professional achievement and recognition, offer a wide-ranging look at contemporary art. An illustrated essay by the book's author contextualizes the work of these artists, whose different generations and aesthetic sensibilities make for a richly rewarding volume. At a time when ethnicity and cultural legacy are part of the conversation in the art world, the artists of "Italianità" make a relevant contribution.


Each of the 59 artists in this book--painters, sculptors, printers, photographers--is represented by four pages of full-color images and a personal narrative. The artists are grouped into two sections. In the first section, we see an identifiable aesthetic connection to the Italy of their ancestors. In the second, while the art may not necessarily evoke an ethnic connection, the artists' narratives tell us that their immigrant Italian culture informed them both personally and creatively.
A foreword to the book was written by Dr. Joseph Sciorra, Director of Academic and Cultural Programs at Queens College's John D. Calandra Italian American Institute, City University of New York. His remarks make clear that the artists in this volume are part of an ongoing cultural history.
The 59 artists featured are Brian Alterio, B. Amore, John Avelluto, Nancy Azara, Len Bellinger, Angelica Bergamini, Gianluca Bianchino, Serena Bocchino, Jeanne Brasile, Luci Callipari-Marcuzzo, Jennifer Cecere, Debra Claffey, Chris Costan, Joe Cultrera, Elisa D'Arrigo, Grace DeGennaro, Claudia DeMonte, Paul Fabozzi, Cianne Fragione, Milisa Galazzi, Diana González Gandolfi, Michelangelo Giaquinto, Antonietta Grassi, Margaret Lanzetta, D. Dominick Lombardi, Aldo Longo, Robert Maloney, Lloyd Martin, Joanne Mattera, Timothy McDowell, Thomas Micchelli, Sandi Miot, Patricia Miranda, Dario Mohr, Wayne Montecalvo, John Monti, Laura Moriarty, Pasquale Natale, Carolanna Parlato, Anna Patalano, Sheila Pepe, Victor Pesce, Don Porcaro, Lucio Pozzi, Paula Maenza Roland, Hugo Rizzoli, Patti Russotti, Lorenza Sannai, Karen Schifano, Mary Schiliro, Assunta Sera, Denise Sfraga, Tracy Spadafora, Roberta Tucci, Josette Urso, Charyl Weissbach, Mark Wethli, Carleen Zimbalatti, and Lisa Zukowski.

About the author

Joanne Mattera grew up in an extended Italian family that included the colorful collision of dialect, "broken English," expansive gestures, and the strong second-generation emphasis on excelling in English. After a childhood spent learning needlework skills from her aunts, Mattera went to art school and became a painter, channeling a textile sensibility into her work. In a decades-long career, Mattera has had over 50 solo exhibitions and participated in numerous group shows here and abroad. She is the author of "The Art of Encaustic Painting" (Watson-Guptill, 2001) and "Vita, a Memoir: Growing Up Italian, Coming Out, and Making a Life in Art" (Well-Fed Artist Press, 2019), as well as "Italianità." She still talks with her hands.

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