Artist Statement

My recent body of work incorporates Feminism, themes of domesticity, body image, and female experience. Added to them is the quirky twist of my Italian American background. In my work liquid soap bottles become angels, clothespins become musical notes, lasagna becomes wallpaper and a bikini, and fusilli pasta becomes a dress form.

Traditional Italian roles for women, involving the art of meal preparation and care of family, clash with the American way of life in which women are asked to focus on independence, career, and body image. Torn between old world values and modern aspirations, women from Italian American backgrounds find themselves in a stressful conundrum. They want to care for their families, as well as pursue their aspirations as freely as men.

The Italian American culture is rich in its zest for life, as well as its eccentricities. My family life is full of both. It is also full of humor, strong familial bonds, cultural pride, nurturing and overnurturing, compulsion, artful preparation, romantic notions, excess and abundance, ceremony, religion, domesticity, living the American Dream and experiencing conflicting female role models. Family is the priority for Italians, and women, as the caregivers, are central to it. Role models for women range from The Madonna on one hand and Sophia Loren on the other. As a woman you are expected to encompass both.

Consequently in my work, domestic objects such as ironing boards, clothespins, dishes, and pasta are juxtaposed with divine images including the Madonna, St. Zita (patron saint of the household), Gregorian Chants and Communion wafers. Repetition of the domestic objects is used to emphasize the mundane as in everyday chores. The repetition on a large scale shows the compulsiveness that can develop from the overwhelming quality of domestic maintenance chores. The repetition also comments on individuality. By altering common objects or applying divine imagery to them, those objects are transformed into a more individual, sacred object. These unlikely combinations naturally create humor, transform the objects into shrines, and define the absurdity of the expectations, stereotypes and roles against which women in my Italian American culture are measured.

In a culture where food and family life are predominant, it is appropriate that domestic maintenance, food and family nurturing would be the subjects of my art. I realized I was putting the same kind of painstaking preparation into my artwork as into a meal. An integral part of my labor intensive work is the step by step preparation needed to create it.

The use of pasta mimics the ephemerality of domestic maintenance, such as cooking and cleaning, which take hours of preparation only to be immediately dirtied or eaten. The ephemeral pasta also critiques the myth of beauty. The pasta objects are laboriously created, but will eventually break down.

My humorous outlook sees something more in the repetitive task than a futile repetition of endless housework or lost hope. But there is also the threat of suffocation in these excessive, familiar, domestic objects. One can easily find oneself trapped. Maybe keeping a sense of humor is the way to avoid suffocation.

For me anger is not a productive emotion. It is healthier to keep one's sense of humor. Often people are willing to examine tougher issues when they are approached with humor, just as beauty can seduce the viewer to examine more closely a repulsive subject. If one can get people to look and consider, then maybe can society's attitude toward women be altered.