Visual Art

The Artistry of the Early Italian Immigrants
in New York City

An Exhibition
Curated by LuLu LoLo


LuLu LoLo as Mother Cabrini with
“Mother Cabrini Hospital Bed”.
Photo: Dan Evans


In  honor of Italian Heritage and Culture Month and in conjunction with the performance of her one-act play, THREE SISTERS IN SOUL: SAINT, SOLDIER, SEAMSTRESS,  LuLu LoLo created a special exhibition for the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum in October 2004.

This exhibition celebrated the works of art that the Italian Immigrants created in America imbued with the traditions they brought from Italy. The exhibition concentrated on the period of peak immigration from the turn of the century up to the Second World War.  WITH THESE OUR HANDS honored the stone carver who sculpted the angels and other statues for the cemetery; memorialized the ironworker who fashioned the elaborate metal décor of many of New York City’s mansions.

Photo: Marina Ortiz

Through this exhibition, the crochet and embroidery of Italian women received deserved recognition and highlighted the artistry of the factory “piece work” that became evident in beaded hats and other fashions.

The exhibit also paid tribute to religious shrines of devotion large or small featuring the Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Grotto, Rosebank, Staten Island, NY; and to those who created beauty while they toiled at a daily job like Joe Milone who made his shoeshine stand a work of art (“Joe Milone’s shoeshine furniture is as festive as a Christmas tree, jubilant as a circus wagon. It is like a lavish wedding cake, a baroque shrine or a super-jukebox…Yet it is purer, more personal and simple hearted than any of these. We must respect the enthusiasm and devotion of the man who made it..”)—Alfred Barr, “Good Old Modern: An Intimate Portrait of the Museum of Modern Art” p.241, Russell Lynes, Atheneum, NY 1973.

What these immigrants did with their hands—they did with their hearts and souls—with dignity and beauty—they made objects of art.

Photo: Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times

The exhibition also featured a mixed media sculpture by LuLu LoLo paying homage to Mother Cabrini: HANDS THAT HEALED—MOTHER CABRINI HOSPITAL BED

Inspired  by the CRIB OF THE INFANT JESUS, South Netherlandish, Brabant, 15th century cradle from the Grand Béguinage of Louvain, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Miniature cradles for the Christ Child were popular devotional objects in the 15th and 16th century.

”I have always adored this bed for Baby Jesus with its dangling bells, hand carved details, and hand embroidered coverlet. I have incorporated my Grandmother Elizabeth Capaldo’s crochet doilies into this work—paying homage to both the crib and her needlework art.”—LuLu LoLo