I am a storyteller. My narrative stems from my heritage in which Italians, Chinese, Africans, and Native Americans all share the same dinner table. In my paintings I try to create a world parallel to our own in which these cultures can exist as one. I am heavily influenced by ancient art including Egyptian tomb paintings, Etruscan ceramics, and Bible manuscript decoration. I look at the African kanga for pattern and color inspiration, the pictures of Italian immigrants on the ship rides to America, printed brochures of slave auctions and ships, and family photographs. Many of these images are symbols with origins of discrimination. I attempt to recycle and heal the images in my visual narrative.
When I first began this series I noticed two figures inspired by a slave auction pamphlet and so I began to study the two silhouettes. At first the figures were awkward, bulky, and disjointed. As my paintings became more specific the silhouettes started to develop; similar to characters in a novel. Their story is inspired by combining myth and religious beliefs from my heritage. I was raised Catholic and so I began to reread the Bible. However, this has also extended into studies of Choctaw, Cherokee, and African beliefs. The main problem introducing a made up religious narrative posed was finding a way to relay as much information as possible about my characterâ€™s fictional belief system. I began to write a text that both influenced and was influenced by the paintings. This process often leads to the paintings being in a different sequence than the written text; this is beneficial because it feeds the dialog between the two. Some of my images may seem violent or abused because they still reference well know images of injustice, yet my intent is always in creating new life. Excerpts from the text are embedded in the paintings as clues into the main idea of the scene.
In the mixed media paintings I use my two main characters to represent gods born from human prejudice to explore death and rebirth by consuming the souls of the suffering. I fondly refer to these characters as Adam and Eve. While they seem similar to us, they lack genitalia and therefore must use their abilities to eat souls or plant souls in the ground to reproduce.
My family remains an important aspect in the creation of this work. They are symbolized by the oranges which refer to the orange groves my Italian ancestors worked on when they first came to America. My grandparents often remind me it is through suffering that we learn and grow. This is why the mirror becomes an important part of the language. By exposing it in the paintings I place the viewer in that exact space demanding they confront their own image and incorporate it into the narrative. Using this method I place the viewer in compromising situations such as hanging from tress so Adam and Eve will devour, heal, and give the viewer new life as a demigod. My story allows for us to pass into their world through the exposed mirror and likewise I believe Adam and Eve can pass into ours through the use of pure light. In such a situation I symbolize their passing into our world by them shedding the black shadow-like skin.