The Institute often produces catalogues to accompany its exhibitions. We are offering many of them as free PDFs available for download.
Reframing Italian America brings to light forty-one historical photographs from the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute’s Bernard Titowsky Collection. The vast majority of the 222 items in this assemblage depict scenes of Italian immigrant life throughout the United States from approximately the first three decades of the twentieth century. A significant number of these prints are mounted on now-faded gray paperboard and captioned with meticulous and ornate calligraphy, presumably part of a previous exhibition. Rosangela Briscese and Joseph Sciorra have selected images from the collection to mount an exhibit of otherwise unknown photographs. The reframing of these images is an opportunity to discover, interpret, and enjoy these fragile and obscure visual documents. These portraits of long-gone individuals, many of them anonymous to history, offer a glimpse of how Italian immigrants refashioned themselves in the process of transforming America.
The catalog features essays by Dominique Padurano, Joseph Sciorra, and John Turturro.
Within Catholicism, ex-votos are votive objects presented in thanks for heavenly intercession with a misfortune such as an accident or illness. This book features two types of Italian ex-votos from the collection of Leonard Norman Primiano, dating from 1832 to 1959: metal objects in the shapes of people, afflicted body parts, or hearts, and painted narrative tablets depicting the dramatic moment of crisis for which intercession was requested. Collectively, the three essays address a history of ex-votos and their place within Catholic thought, their creation and use by Italian Americans, and finally, the ex-votos’ social life beyond their original religious context, in particular, as collectibles and inspiration for studio-trained artists.
April 12th - June 10th, 2011: The Artists of IAVANET - An Exhibition by the Italian-American Visual Artists' Network
Color digital prints from Franc Palaia’s SX-70 Polaroid series depict landscapes, classical architecture, contemporary structures, and urban spaces from several regions of Italy. He hand-colors the 3”x3” Polaroids, enabling him to blend, eradicate, and heighten the color and add visual and tactile texture to the image surfaces, making them look like miniature oil paintings. He also hand-works the imagery by scraping, cutting, and adding collage. The transformation process continues as he scans the SX-70s and enlarges them into digital color prints. The exhibition will include original hand-colored SX-70 Polaroids as well as a large selection of 8”x10” digital photographs derived from the original SX-70s.
October 27th, 2010 - January 7th, 2011: Punks and Skinheads of the East Village, 1984-1987 Photographs by Lilian Caruana
The exhibition is presented in conjunction with the Calandra Institute's one-day symposium, Hybrid Moments: Independent Music in Italian America, Friday, November 5, 2010.
March 19th - June 26th, 2009: Chist'è New York: The Mark Pezzano Collection of Neapolitan Sheet Music from New York
February 23rd - April 5th, 2004: The Art of Freedom: Onorio Ruotolo and the Leonardo da Vinci School
Ruotolo’s social conscience led him to establish the Leonardo Da Vinci Art School on Manhattan’s Lower East Side in 1923. The school was committed to providing free art instruction to young men and women from working poor families. The school was founded “without utilitarian or commercial aims…. [and] it conducts its work without prejudice of race or religion, keeping its doors open to all who are eager to learn.” Ruotolo directed the Leonardo for two decades, mentoring numerous artists, including the sculptor Isamu Noguchi.
The exhibition, curated by Calandra Institute staff Joseph Sciorra and Peter Vellon, showcases thirteen Ruotolo plaster sculptures, which Onorio’s son Lucio Ruotolo donated to the Calandra Institute in 1999. The exhibition also features photographs and original documents depicting the importance of the Leonardo Da Vinci Art School.
February 6th - March 14th, 2003: Sacred Emblems, Community Signs: Historic Flags and Religious Banners from Italian Williamsburg
Curated by Dr. Joseph Sciorra of the Calandra Institute, this exhibition is unique in that there has never been a formal exhibition of Italian American religious banners in this country. While banners were omnipresent during religious processions and street feste throughout the United States during the late nineteenth century and twentieth century, there exists no literature written about their craftsmanship or use. Even in Italy, scant scholarly attention has been paid to the topic.
We know very little about the Italian American craftspeople that made these commissioned standards. Domenick Abbate, J. Adorno, Alexander D’Angelo Frank De Caro, M. Di Leva, and C. Lombardi were some of the major producers of flags, banners, and uniforms for New York’s Italian American community during the late nineteenth century, and first half of the twentieth century. Many of the banners to be exhibited date from the first half of the twentieth century.
We do know about the community of Italian American Catholics who introduced these devotions to New York. The banners represent historic and contemporary devotions to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Our Lady of the Snows, Our Lady of Mercy, St. Paulinus, St. Cono, and St. Sabino. Many of these sacred personages are the spiritual patronages of Italian towns such as Fontanarosa, Nola, Sanza, and Teggiano. Voluntary associations, many which still exist, historically commissioned the banners and organized the processions to honor the respective saints and aspects of the Madonna.
This exhibition demonstrates how the banners function as “key symbols,” to use anthropologist Sherry Ortner’s term, of identity, publicly proclaiming religious conviction, Italian regional affiliation, and claims to historic connection to an urban community as they are paraded through the streets in annual processions through Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
October 8th, 1999 - February 20th, 2000: The Italians of New York: Five Centuries of Struggle and Achievement
The Italians of New York: Five Centuries of Struggle and Achievement
Philip V. Cannistraro, Editor (2000)
Italian immigrants made their homes in New York long before the Great Migration. Sometime in the 1640s a Venetian sailor named Cesare Alberti settled at the corner of Broad Street and Exchange Place in Manhattan and was perhaps the earliest Italian homeowner in the city. During the era of the American Revolution, farmers, merchants and musical artists followed Alberti's example, creating a small but noticeable Italian presence in the city.
In the mid-nineteenth century, Italian refugees fleeing political repression settled in New York. One early exile was the artist Nicolino Calyo, who painted street scenes. Lorenzo Da Ponte, Mozart's librettist, also settled here in 1830, helped to found the Italian Opera House and became the first Professor of Italian at Columbia University.
Perhaps the most prominent political exile to come to New York was Giuseppe Garibaldi, the military hero responsible for the unification of Italy. When the American Civil War broke out, Italians and other immigrants in New York formed the Garibaldi Guard, a volunteer group officially known as the 39th New York Regiment. Immigrant Luigi Palma di Cesnola fought in the Union army and received a Congressional Medal of Honor. After the conflict, di Cesnola served as United States Consul to Crete and in 1880 became the first director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.