“Creative Spaces/Contested Spaces: Reinterpreting Italian American Public Art in New York City” is the title of the new seminar scheduled in New York, next June. Funded by the federal agency National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and conceived and organized by Rebecca Bauman, Associate Professor of Italian at the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures of the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT, SUNY), it is an important initiative because 40 teachers and researchers from all over the United States will participate. When they return to their schools and universities, they will in turn be promoters of courses and discussions on Italian American art and culture.
Registration is open until March 5th and, for the first time, new graduates at the start of their academic career can also apply: https://contestedspaces.fitnyc.edu/how-to-apply/ .
Rebecca Bauman wrote the proposal for the NEH grant. Specializing in Italian American cultural studies, a member of the executive committee of the Italian American Studies Association (IASA), she is also the Film and Digital Media Reviews Editor of Italian American Review, a bi-annual, peer-reviewed journal investigating the history and culture of Italian Americans.
“Since I was a child I have been passionate about Italian art and culture – Bauman told the Voce di NY -. And I am happy that my proposal was accepted, because I think it is necessary to make the artistic and cultural heritage of Italian Americans better known and to discuss its history. In this seminar the study of monuments and public places will also serve to talk about the history of immigration in America, the relationship between Italian Americans and Americans, and how those monuments and spaces can be reinterpreted and used today”.
During the seminar in June, participants will visit, among other places, the Christopher Columbus monument at Columbus Circle, the Palazzo d’Italia at Rockefeller Center, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Grotto and the Garibaldi Meucci museum on Staten Island, and the Triangle Shirtwaist Memorial. “The latter was partly created at the FIT and the inscriptions that explain its history are in English, Italian and Yiddish, since the victims of that terrible fire were almost all Italian and Jewish,” recalls Bauman.
In addition to visits, the seminar will feature interdisciplinary presentations by ethnic studies scholars, art historians, labor historians, practicing artists, members of public arts commissions, and activists who will offer various perspectives on the role of public art in communicating multiple and divergent values over time.
Speakers will include, among others: Nicola Lucchi, Executive Director of the Center for Italian Modern Art (CIMA), Joseph Sciorra, a folklorist and Director for Academic and Cultural Programs at the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute, Queens College (City University of New York), and Eduardo Montes-Bradley, the Argentinian-born filmmaker who is completing an hour-long documentary entitled The Italian Factor that tells the story of the Piccirilli family, Italian sculptors who became essential collaborators for some of the most prominent American sculptors of their time and whose public artworks made a significant impact on the urban landscape of New York City.