La mia Famiglia

Entitled House of Maffei, art-quilt 28"x36"

Entitled  Italian Laundry
With modern as well as vintage photos referenced in my figurative work, I am fortunate to be surrounded by friends that travel quite a bit.  I often ask them to snap photographs that I can then manipulate for use in my artwork in a variety of ways.  The art-quilt entitled Italian Laundry, is a perfect example of doing just that.  When I was working on my American Family Album series I wanted to focus on our immigration from Italy in a couple of pieces.  Because my research for the series continuously resulted in lost tales and interesting stories, the old adage about hanging out ones dirty laundry kept creeping into my consciousness.  When I heard that a friend was traveling to Italy I specifically asked for photos referencing this subject.  I remember her surprise to find laundry hanging out in such a fashion everywhere she went.  From the poorest areas to the more affluent, she was not at a loss for subject matter.  This piece truly served as a grounding element for the entire series.


Interestingly enough she also snapped a picture of a street sign bearing the family name that, through the immigration process, had been manipulated and eventually lost to us.  Somewhere along the way, without an Irish ancestor in the bunch, Murphy had replace Maffei!  Only three generations later and no one had even questioned this obvious Irish name in the midst of our obvious Italian heritage.  When I began my research for this series I found old letters and photos in Italian apparently belonging to my great grandfather, along with his seaman book that recorded his entry from port to port.  I watched his name gradually change spelling from Maffei to Murphy as the years charted his travels.  The art-quilt to the right is my attempt to at least creatively restore our family name.  Among the imagery of laundry and an antique map of Italy rests a vintage photograph of my grandfather with his father and uncle, who I was to learn were seamen from Genoa.  Thanks to Nikki Vick for the wonderful images of laundry and the thoughtfulness to also snap a picture of the street sign bearing our long lost surname.

These family pieces still hang in my home and serve as inspiration for the commission pieces I offer others who also want to tell their own American Family Album story.