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Bird of Passage

Bird of Passage by Denise ((bonaimo)) Sarram 23" x 18" x 10" Assemblage 2020


This is my maternal Great Grandfather Biagio. This assemblage is called “Bird of Passage” and it refers to people who made multiple journeys to America from their homeland. They worked hard labor jobs to make wages to provide for their families, or to earn enough money to buy them steamship ticket passage.


As a result, some immigrants names appeared on more than one ship manifest. From what I understand- some of these men never actually brought their families, but simply needed to earn money and Sicily had a very depressed economy at the time. Many people were agricultural workers, but there were more people than jobs.


America was encouraging able bodied people to come to bolster up our workforce. Turn of the century immigrants (including many Sicilians) built the infrastructure of New York City including digging subway tunnels and other difficult jobs. Many females worked in the clothing manufacturing industry in sweatshop factories.


This concept of  "Bird of Passage"- a fascinating commitment of traveling far and frequent to make money to support their families prompted me to make this assemblage.

I hand sculpted the bird in ceramic and covered it with embossed metallic paper and watch parts and inserted doll eyes. The goggles are sapphire bejeweled watch faces with leather watch straps. The nest is rusted wire and fabric.

This old, red metal trunk, which I found at a junk shop, used to house roller skates. I added a pressure gauge to make it a bit more Steampunk.  The manhole portal represents the journey on the steamship. Biagio is depicted on a replica Italian passport on the left, with a very gear-heavy mechanical bird assembled next to him.

The rear view has a humidity gauge that I added and the word "Love" which was part of the original salvaged trunk.

This was a fun piece to make, I hope you enjoy it too.

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