A new exhibit coming this April to the JD Carrier Art Gallery at the Columbus Centre in Toronto will pay tribute to the brave Italian women, “femmine forti,” who immigrated to Canada after World War II. The two-month long multifaceted, multimedia and multi-layered exhibit is part of The Quiet Immigrant Project, focusing on stories of strength, courage, determination, and sacrifice.
Testimonials from about 20 women comprise the current crop of “Tributes,” but the organizers want to hear from more women. Throughout the exhibit there will be an opportunity to become part of the project by participating in the interactive sections by writing, speaking, or sharing a treasure from home and add to the collection. The hope is that the exhibit will act as a catalyst, encouraging conversations from coast to coast.
The group behind the project – Lorena McNamara, Aurora Pagano, Benedetta Stellino, Patrizia Libralato, Eleanora Buono, Ester Paris Mauro, Jennifer Bhatthal and Laura Libralato – started to document the women’s stories in 2018, in English and Italian. There is a sense of urgency to the project as the women of immigration get older. Since the project began, two of the subjects have passed away. The project has also been subjected to the emotional and physical toll of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Along with the exhibit is a series of biweekly “TAVOLAtalks”: health and wellness advocates, artists, actors, filmmakers, academics, and children of the femmine forti will speak, perform and share their experiences and knowledge on immigration, matriarchal influences, language and identity as members of the Italian diaspora.
The “InHERitance” art exhibit will accompany The Quiet Immigrant Project. An invitation is extended to visual artists from all diasporas to express what they have “inherited” from a strong matriarch in their lives. The call is for original works of art in any two-dimensional form (drawing, painting, mixed media, photography).