Most of us have heard of Lee Iacocca the industrialist, Robert Venturi the architect, Brian De Palma the film-maker and Gay Talese the writer. They have all contributed to the emergence of Italian-Americans as a major force in the cultural and business life of the nation.
What most Americans do not appreciate, however, is the cultural, religious, craft and family base which made possible the success of individuals such as those named above. By presenting an exhibit on Italian-American life in the Delaware Valley, the Balch Institute hopes to fill this gap in our knowledge and to show how the ancestors of today's Italian-Americans found their "American dream" through hard work, religion, family and community. It is a story of which all Italian-Americans can be proud and one which the Balch Institute is pleased to present.
M. Mark Stolarilk
The Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies is delighted to co-sponsor "Italian-American Traditions: Family and Community" with the Italian Folk Arts Federation of America. IFAFA is an outgrowth of the Italian Folk Art Project initiated in 1977 at the Nationalities Service Center of Philadelphia under the leadership of Cav. Elba Farabegoli Gurzau. The exhibition is part of a larger, joint effort on the part of the Balch Library and Museum to develop and maintain a permanent Italian-American Research Collection encompassing photographs, documents, artifacts, works of art and other materials.
Guest Curator Grace Russoniello, an educator in the field of Italian language and Italian-American culture, has shown extraordinary skill and insight in organizing the exhibition and in authoring the essay included here. She was assisted by a thirteen-member Advisory Board: Elba Farabegoli Gurzau; Thora Jacobsen Sorgini; The Honorable Nicholas Cipriani; Dr. Rose Basile Green; Dominic Liberi, Esq.; Professor Jerre Mangione; Dorothy Marcucci; Loretta Marsella; Joseph Monte; Rachel Munafo, Esq.; Michael Rainone, Esq.; Frank Rossi; and Bridgette Termini.
A team of volunteers and interns worked under the direction of Grace Russoniello. Andrew Chalfen served as Research Assistant in the early stages of the project Michael Chiarappa conducted field work and collected a variety of materials in South Jersey and Chestnut Hill. Elizabeth Haller and Jennifer Way located and assembled the works of fine art included in the exhibition, benefiting from the assistance of Frank Gasparro.
Over eighty donors and lenders are represented in this exhibition. The Institute is very grateful for their support: Herman Alessi, for the Delaware Valley Morra League; Detta Amabili; Joseph A. Amari; American Museum of Glass at Wheaton Village; American Museum of Immigration; Severo Antonelli; Louis Angelini; The Athenaeum; John J. Baranzano; Mrs. Richard Bare estate; Mr. and Mrs. Gerardo Belfiore; Dr. Joseph Bentivegna; Vincent Bilotta; Theresa F. Bucchieri; John Capuzzi Gallery; Gina Carano; Martha Carina; Joseph Cascio; Rosemarie Certo; Frank Ciocari; Diane Chillemi; Livia Colavito; Coca-Cola Company-, Dr. Angelo B. Costa; Alicia Del Vecchio Cowan; Sara Crimeldi; Vincent Cuffari, for the 38th Ward Bocce Club; Department of Community Programs, Philadelphia Museum of Art; Catherine DiFeliciantonio; Anthony DiFlorio; Theresa DiMarco; Adele DiRenzo; Mary Duva; Elsmer Marble & Granite Company; Fante's Inc.; Louis Filippi; Rose and Angelo Fiorani; Fiorellas Sausage Company, Free Library of Philadelphia; Natalie Nai Garosi; Frank Gasparro; Dina Gentile; A. Robert Giorgio; Mary Girolami; Anthony Giunta; Elba Farabegoli Gurzau; Mary lanni; Natalie Greco locco; King of Peace Church; Tony Lamberti; Mary Leone; Marie A. Lederer, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Maccarone; Louis Mallace; Dorothy Marcucci; Rosa Zagari-Marinzoli; Loretta Marsella; Justine Mataleno; Betty Mongelluzzo; Rachel Munafo; Nello Nai; Gladys Nai; Mr. and Mrs. Attilio Naimoli; Napoleone Colajanni Mutual Aid Society; Carolyn Nicosia; Maria Nociforo; Theresa Onesti; Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Society; Hammonton, New Jersey, Sylvia Paraje; Eugene Paloni, Sr.; Mr. and Mrs. D. Pino; Port of History Museum; Colleen Prince; Anna Reuther, Mary Ricci; Rosina Rucci; Louis Russoniello; St. Anthony Society, Philadelphia; St Donato Church; St. Mary Magdelan de' Pazzi Church; Iva Shindler, Mrs. Polda Smaniotto; Thora and Antonio Sorgini; Dr. James Tanis; Brigette and Vincent Termini; Joseph Termini and family; Marie Sabelli Tomasso; Urban Archives Center, Temple University; and Otto Zinnie.
The Institute's Education Department has scheduled a variety of public programs in conjunction with the exhibition. The Honorable Lisa Richette and Congressman Thomas Foglietta have kindly provided assistance in planning related activities.
On behalf of the Guest Curator, I would also like to acknowledge Rosina Rucci, who helped locate artifacts in South Philadelphia; Justine Mataleno, whose collection efforts in Delaware proved invaluable; and Dorothy Noyes, whose research on Italian community and churchbased organizations led to some unique findings.
Lanny Bergner designed the exhibition with considerable skill and inventiveness. M. Mark Stolarik provided editorial assistance with the catalogue; Joan Guerin developed its creative design. Catherine Swan and Patricia Proscino Lusk provided curatorial assistance with the help of Wendy Kuhn, Roberta Wue, and Carla Zimmerman. The Museum is also grateful for the assistance of the Board of Trustees and the other members of the Institute's Board and staff, as well as the exhibition installation team. I would also like to acknowledge the services of Professional Color Processing Labs, Inc. and Garrison Printing.
"Italian-American Traditions. Family and Community" is partially supported by a grant from the Pennsylvania Humanities Council and by a gift from Mr. and Mrs. Harold Sorgenti, as well as other private donations.
Gail F. Stern
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