My grandfather came to America from Sicily through Ellis Island in 1925 with his brother and cousin. Later, my grandmother also joined him. He was a metal worker and worked on the railroad. My father was a first generation Italian American immigrant. Over time, my grandfather taught my dad how to work with metals, forging a new business in Ornamental Iron. It wasn’t easy, but the business grew one railing at a time.
My heritage has deeply influenced my life. I was always interested in art and knew that was my calling. I longed to go to Italy and study, firsthand, the Renaissance artists that I admired so much. When I was 19, I got the chance to study abroad in Florence. I was supposed to stay one semester but I stayed 11 years. I lived in Florence, influenced by wonderful artists; Michelangelo and Caravaggio being my favorites. I also spent all of my free time traveling within Italy. I visited my family in Sicily, spent time in Naples, and the Amalfi coast etc. W
While I love art, it was my love for the people and the culture that kept me there.
I did move back to Ohio and life went on. I am currently the director of an Arts Ministry for Christ Community Chapel in Hudson, OH. I lead people to use their gifts to glorify God in worship. I have the best job in the world!
I longed to go back to Italy but was never able to on my budget. About seven years ago, I was asked to take a team of students to Rome to offer free art classes as a love gift to the churches. Since then, I have been back every year at least once. What a blessing! My next trip is scheduled for this summer and I know it will be wonderful.
Rome is a very different city than Florence. Big and sprawling, much older, ancient. I am always discovering something new about Italy. I deeply appreciate the cities and the history they reflect. But, my heart is also tied to the countryside the contadini and their lives. I’m grateful to speak the language and be immersed in the culture. Each region brings different dialect and customs. It’s a rich land.
The first one was painted to show how we are used to thinking about Christmas...warm house filled with lights and presents. The smell of good food and the promise of family.
All of those things are good things but they can't compare with the wonder and awe of the birth of our Savior Jesus, represented in the second banner.