Artist Talk: Immigrants and Diasporic Italians

Angelica Bergamini, Gianluca Bianchino, Diana González Gandolfi

Among the artists featured in the Calandra Institute’s exhibit A Legacy of Making are immigrants born and raised in Italy and Argentina. Their inclusion alters and expands our understanding of who constitutes “Italian Americans.” How do these artists’ transnational experiences and statuses inform their work and their position within the art world? Three artists will dialogue about their individual and artist journeys as part of the exhibit’s final public presentation.

Artist Talk: A Conversation about Identity and Art

A Conversation about Identity and Art: John Avelluto, Joanne Mattera, Timothy McDowell, Sheila Pepe

Identity politics has become an increasingly significant aspect of the art world. This shift signaled, to a large degree, interventionist critiques by artists of color of an art scene and market dominated by straight, white men with a definitive Western perspective. Given this context, what does it mean to consider ethnic identity—italianità—when discussing US-based artists of Italian heritage? What are the benefits and limitations of organizing an exhibit featuring “21 Italian American artists” at an Italian American venue like the Calandra Institute? Join us for a conversation about cultural identity and art and other related topics.

A Legacy of Making: 21 Contemporary Italian American Artists

Curated by Joanne Mattera and Joseph Sciorra

Exhibition opening takes place on Wednesday, September 27, 2023, at 6pm.

The work of the twenty-one artists featured in this exhibit offers a richness of form, medium, subject matter, color, and style that is a delight and a revelation to behold. Connections to a discernable Italian art tradition—or for that matter to Italian American aesthetic practices more specifically—vary across the exhibition, ranging from the explicit to the suggestive to the nonexistent.

After the opening on September 27, the exhibition will be accessible during business hours, 9:00am to 5:00pm, Monday through Friday, and is located in the Galleria of the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute.

Detail of Due Facc’, by John Avelluto, 2020

The Angel of Central Park: A “Made in Italy” New York Icon

Celebration of the 150th anniversary of the inauguration of the Angel of the Waters and launch of the English edition of Emma and the Angel of Central Park: The Story of a New York Icon and the Woman Who Created it (published by Bordighera Press).

Nota bene: This event will take place

May 31, 2023 6pm


the Italian Cultural Institute
686 Park Avenue, NY

RSVP, indicating: “Emma and the Angel”

Welcome remarks: Prof. Fabio Finotti, IIC-NY Director
Author Maria Teresa Cometto in conversation with:
Anthony J. Tamburri, Dean of John D. Calandra Italian American Institute Queens College, CUNY, Moderator
John Steele Gordon, writer and descendant of Emma Stebbins
Matt Reiley, Associate Director of Conservation for the Central Park Conservancy
Julia Markus, author of Across An Untried Sea: Discovering Women’s Lives Hidden in The Shadow of Convention and Time
Lisa Ackerman, Visiting Assistant Professor, Pratt Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment

Emma and the Angel of Central Park is a wonderfully absorbing biography about the creator of one of New York’s most admired and iconic sculptures. Expansive in breadth and meticulous in detail, this book places Emma Stebbins amidst a broad panorama of New York and Rome, and insightfully recounts how she navigated nineteenth-century cultural, artistic, and gender mores.

–Thayer Tolles, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The iconic Bethesda Fountain with the Angel of the Waters was inaugurated on May 31st 1873. Maria Teresa Cometto’s book is the first biography ever of the sculptor who created it: Emma Stebbins, the first woman to receive a public art commission in New York City. Emma was part of a group of American women sculptors who lived in Rome in the 19th century — a group Henry James dubbed “the white marmorean flock.” It is in Rome that Emma created the statue that was meant to celebrate the clean pure waters in New York City. Born in Manhattan, Emma was “married” to the actress Charlotte Cushman. Women. Gays. Immigrants. A bridge between the U.S. and Italy. Environmental consciousness. Each of these is an integral part of the Angel of Central Park.

Maria Teresa Cometto has been living in New York since 2000. In addition to working for almost 30 years as a journalist for the leading Italian daily Corriere della Sera, she has also written several books.