It was not until my son was born in 2006 that I reunited with my father’s family and learned more about the Italian heritage of my surname. My family was from Carlentini, Sicily, and it was my father’s grandparents who immigrated to the United States and ultimately settled in Omaha, Nebraska. The more I learned about my family, the more I wanted to know, and I began to seek out all I could about the history of Sicily, and all things Sicilian culture.
In doing so, I came across an incredible Sicilian poet named Ignazio Buttitta. In “I Pirati a Palermu,” Buttitta tells of pirates invading Palermo, bringing darkness and subsequently destroying the island. The imagery in the poem is extraordinary and stuck with me long after I first read it. One of Buttitta’s contemporaries and friends, Sicilian folk singer Rosa Balistreri put Buttitta’s poem to song and accompanied it with only her acoustic guitar. Her voice is haunting and the song is amazingly even more powerful than the poem itself.
In choosing to translate the poem and song to canvas, I hoped to capture its essence while incorporating my interest in Sicily, its culture and history, and draping it with elements of typography.
Notice: This painting will be on display at the Madden Museum for the Salotto Di Luminoso show October 30, 2009 through February 2010. It will be the first time a painting of mine has been on display publicly and I am very excited and honored for the opportunity.