||This body of work by Denise (Bonaimo) Sarram 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 the ancestors of the artist (a second/ third generation Italian- American). Highlighting their journeys from Sicily to Brooklyn, New York at the turn of the 20th century, each work of art invites the viewer to spend more than a moment to explore the attention to detail, meticulous craftsmanship and interesting narrative. Denise uses found objects (vintage and modern), ephemera (common and artisan) as well as personal mementos, historical documents and photographs. This project has connected her to her ancestors in a more intimate way and has brought their stories to life. These tales may be specific to her ancestors, but the struggles they faced were shared experiences of many. This collection of over 20 works of art weaves in historical context, highlighting events which not only affected their lives, but also shaped the world at large. Events such as: the arduous steamship trips across the Atlantic Ocean in steerage, the scary and exhilarating Ellis Island experience and the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire that helped fuel the sweatshop workers’ rights movement.
This work is deeply personal. Interwoven throughout these dynamic assemblages are memories, stories, photographs and official documents of the artist's maternal and paternal great grandparents, grandparents and great aunts and uncles, some of whom she remembers first hand, but most she only knows through photos and stories passed down.
"In essence, one might say that this body of work is more like 200 years in the making, " Denise remarks, " I invite you to spend some time to soak in all the details and get to know my ancestors filtered through my creative brain, and in doing so, you may get to know me a bit as well."