My artistic career has centered around two purposes: to produce excellent documentary work that highlights social issues and cultural history, and to empower others to document their own histories and surroundings.
My career began as a photojournalist, and I quickly began to use my talents to primarily help nonprofits and social causes. I photographed volunteers in the Dominican Republic, the peace process in post-dictatorship Guatemala, social conditions in New Orleans, Louisiana, and cultural events in Baltimore, Maryland. Throughout this time, I gained a great deal of knowledge about service organizations, and I began to use this knowledge to teach others how to be effective advocates for social change…
My goal has always been to tell stories, especially ones that strengthen the ties among people and communities. I am not content with seeing only my version of a story. Encouraging and instructing others to tell their stories has been an important part of my practice.
…My grandfather’s family was from Bari, and my grandmother from Torretta, Sicily. My generation did not learn Italian, because my grandparents spoke such different dialects, and because they did not want to be associated with the crime-ridden immigrant neighborhoods in which they grew up.
I, along with several of my cousins, have sought to learn more about our ancestral home. My grandparents carried with them all of their families’ Italian customs. For instance, they made wine in their own homemade barrels, kept St. Joseph’s tables, cooked traditional meals, and, of course, spoke Italian. They could afford to lose some customs, because their memory was already so vast. My generation, instead, must actively seek out and commemorate the customs which we find important. This is my relationship with southern Italy: part memory and part practice, and a desire to form a stronger, contemporary bond with southern Italy.