This is the proposal I send out to Italian-American cultural groups to interest them in my presentations. I gave a presentation to an Italian Language club in May at Our Lady of Grace Church in Gravesend, Brooklyn. I'm returning to their group in September to talk about another passion: Regional Italian Cuisine.
FESTA, FAMILY AND FOOD
The Origins & Traditions of Three Italian Festivals
A Fulbright Project
About the Presentation:
This presentation is an examination of the evolution and continuity of the cultural traditions of three saints’ feasts, the Gigli in Nola, the Ceri in Gubbio and St. Joseph’s feast in Salemi, Sicily. These festivals unite their communities in creative, cooperative effort toward a common goal and the feasts’ artwork, music and celebratory foods illustrate and symbolize their historical tales of heroic sacrifice and redemption. The enduring strength of these feasts may be because they reinforce the pride and identity of the citizens of communities so impoverished in the past that it gave impetus to the Italian diaspora of the late 19th century. The feasts celebrate suffering, rejoicing and survival, and their folk art serves to reshape historical narratives and social identities in a modern society. This nine-month research project examined the evolution of these feasts from pagan rites to Christian celebrations, their artwork combining contemporary design with the baroque, all serving as expressions of cultural identity.
The photographs and commentary bring to life the elements of the feasts’ preparations and celebrations:
· Women and their daughters make bread, crafted in myriad shapes and forms, as the principal element used to decorate the altars and banquet tables created for St. Joseph’s feast.
· Papier-mâché is the art form used to create ornately sculpted facades for the 85-foot towers - the gigli - carried on the shoulders of men through the streets of Nola to celebrate the Festa dei Gigli.
· The Ceri is a race through the streets of Gubbio of three huge wooden cylinders, each crowned with a statue of a saint and also borne on the shoulders of a nine-man team. Men and their sons carry on the traditions of both the Gigli and the Ceri.
The duration of the presentation is about 45 minutes with a half-hour Q&A period.
About the Presenter:
Stephanie Trudeau is a singer/actress/writer who worked nine years as a music educator at several Catholic elementary schools in Brooklyn. After completing her B.S. in 2005 on the History and Performance of American Popular Song, she began a research project on the continuity of Italian culture and traditions in Italian-American communities. In 2006 she was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to Italy to continue her Festa research, in which she compared and contrasted the traditions of the feasts as they are celebrated in both Italy and the U.S. After completing her Fulbright she began working at The Bronx Museum of the Arts as manager of the museum book/gift shop. After leaving the Bronx Museum Stephanie created a company, Stevie’s Artisans Urban Folk Art, which sells the work of four artisans. She has presented her Festa photos at DeVry College in New Jersey, The Brooklyn Historical Society and The Italian American Historical Society of Providence, RI. Her article, Born to Giglio, published in 2005 in “Voices, The Journal of New York Folklore,” was the start of this Festa journey.
The following introduction was used by the Italian American Museum for a recent speaking engagement: The Italian American Museum invites you to a photo presentation of a Fulbright project entitled, "Festa, Family and Food." Please join us as Fulbright scholar Stephanie Trudeau presents a lecture with power point presentation on the history and cultural significance of three saints’ festivals celebrated in Italy and in Italian-American communities.