Pilgrimage of Heritage

The distance between my father and I always made me wonder about my heritage. My father never spoke about his Sicilian family or ancestors, which made me even more curious. What was he hiding? So many unanswered questions.

With the help of ancestry.com, and Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey, I began my search. Finding an Immordino group on Facebook led me to a distant cousin, who became my guide overseas. Setting out to find my family roots, I could not have imagined the story I was about to uncover.

In “Pilgrimage of Heritage” the story begins with images first learned of in books, and later informed by experience. Churches, village streets, and cellars are combined with portraits and fleeting figures, serving as abstractionist surreal interruptions. This emotionally and visually charged multiverse reflects not only my travels across the world, but also interior states of imagination. In Sicily, I felt destined to be there but somehow did not belong–like a prodigal child who was profoundly an outsider as well. I soon discovered that rather than Italian-American as I had assumed, my DNA revealed a Greek, Arabic, Middle Eastern, and North African origin. I quickly realized we are all so much more than we think, and so much more connected. I left Sicily with a different life story than I had arrived with, and in a way, a different self. It was this the kind of paradox, both in narrative and consciousness, that my constructed images portray and embody.

Images captured in Sicily were collaged or montaged with other elements in purview, to tell a broader story, and give context within germane historical eras, geopolitics, and prevailing mindsets. This is expressed through the painstaking layering of fragments of past and present, old and new, people, places, objects, and textures in a fractal compression that looks like life, a dream, and history. This conceptual structure is further expressed throughout the project as the suite of close to two dozen pictures utilizing an array of techniques, materials, and processes, to form a variety of shapes and sizes. Finding distinctive and various frames, much like the variety in genes, I tend to favor those from the late 1800s. Fashioned from wood and gold-plated brass with convex glass, evocatively aged and lovingly restored, which is just one way I love transitioning the old into something shiny and new.

By using compositional technique to enlighten this intimately epic narrative, I believe my style has found its spiritual home. Place can be a metaphor for how our lives are enacted against the backdrop of durable, even ancient places, impersonal cities and ancestral homelands. In embracingall processes, I have endeavored to mirror an acceptance for my familial secrets, my pilgrimage of heritage.

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