Bonaimo/ Bonanno- What's In A Name?
Bonaimo/ Bonanno- What's In A Name? by Denise ((bonaimo)) Sarram 12" x 10" x 2" Assemblage 2020
vintage computer keyboard, old map, vintage wooden rulers, paper, wood pediment,buttons, paper doll, mica, watch face, wooden frame
Bonaimo/ Bonanno/ Potato/ Po-tah-to? The theme of this assemblage speaks to the fact that the paternal side of my family has brothers with different last names. They are Bonaimo, Bonanno and yes, even Bonano, depending on which sibling in this first generation family you are referring to.
The vintage IBM computer keys have been altered to feature a map of Brooklyn. Together with the cement looking pediment with the clock and gears, it alludes to an inner school building. I was lucky to find these rulers from the NYC Board of Education, which I miter cut to form the border. The paper doll standing by the American flag has a red button covering her face. In my artwork, I use these buttons to create anonymity, after all, she could be any student.
Here's what little information I have about the name changes...
It is a common misunderstanding that immigrants names were changed at Ellis Island. Truth is, the names written on the ship manifests are filled out in the immigrants port of departure.
When my Great Grandfather Nicola Bonanno came to America from Sicily with his pregnant wife and 8 children in 1906 they settled in Brooklyn. One of these children is my Grandfather William (Grandpa Willy).
For some reason (which I am unable to get to the bottom of this mystery) Grandpa Willy and his siblings were enrolled in public school and had three different last names. William and Johnny became "Bonaimo", and two of his brothers had the aforementioned alternate spellings. Eventually Johnny changed his last name back to the original Bonanno. There is no mention of what the sisters' names were. This is going to take more detective work on my part. For another day, I suppose.