(2017 work in progress) A series of interactive painting poems on the American flag in collaboration with poet, Meg Castaldo.

I had recently returned to the U.S. when conceptualizing this project. After 10 years of being abroad, my identity is now fragmented even more, yet it has simultaneously sharpened. One learns most about self through the strange. Who one is and the experiences that have shaped the self are more pronounced once one has distance both spatial and temporal.Thus, when looking back at growing up in America, suddenly what seems like just childhood or development, the concern becomes identity rooted in specific place and time. Growing up during the transition of post civil rights, the end of the Vietnam war, during the Cold War, pre-internet, the rise of globalization and transnational companies, the final industrialization of agriculture, suburban sprawl, my generation was pitted against the contradictions in empowerment and unity.

This collaborative project made sense upon my return as a personal response to the tense identity crisis that globalization has pushed some members of American society to revert to desperate and pathetic measures. The project consists of parts of the American flag framed inside an interactive sound box. When the visitor touches the painting they can hear prose of growing up in America. Castaldo’s prose draws upon intimate subjects with a distant lens while exploring the bitter-sweetness of human relations. Keen observation, quick wit and a unique Italian-American female perspective inform her work; themes include cultural dislocation, the nature of family, women’s roles and sexuality, Catholicism and the difficulty of love. Her work is inspired by the incomparable Denis Johnson and the exhaustive Karl Ove Knausgaard.