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2021 Immigrate: Assimilate

Immigrate: Assimilate- Stories of Resilience by Denise ((bonaimo)) Sarram

This body of work has been two years in the making. It's a visual story told through the art of assemblage and collage about the immigrant experiences of my Sicilian ancestors in Brooklyn, New York at the turn of the 20th century.

I use found objects (vintage and modern), ephemera (historical and modern) as well as personal mementos and photographs. I want to connect to my ancestors in a more intimate way and bring their stories to life to share with others. I seek to put the struggles they faced in historical context, highlighting events which not only effected their lives, but also shaped the world at large. Narratives speak to events such as: the arduous steamship journeys across the Atlantic in steerage, the scary and exhilarating Ellis Island experience and the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire that helped fuel the sweatshop workers’ rights movement.

Each work of art invites the viewer to spend a more than a moment to explore the attention to detail, meticulous craftsmanship and interesting narrative.

My work is deeply personal. Interwoven throughout these dynamic assemblages are memories, stories, photographs and official documents of my maternal and paternal great grandparents, grandparents and great aunts and uncles, some of whom I remember first hand, but most I only know through photos and stories passed down.

In essence, one might say that this body of work is more like 200 years in the making. I invite you to spend some time to soak in all the details and get to know my ancestors a bit, and in doing so, you may get to know me a bit as well.

Immigrate: Assimilate (detail) by Denise ((bonaimo)) Sarram 2020

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