Italian immigrant women and artistic creativity: Cultural window display reflects Mannella lecture theme
Complementing the recent Mannella Distinguished Lecture focusing on the relationship between the creativity of handiwork and Italian immigrant women, the November cultural window exhibit features two exquisite crocheted pieces, a bedspread and a vanity cover, made by Maria Pullino Calla (1889-1918) who immigrated to the United States from Cinquefrondi, Calabria, Italy.
Her grandson, Richard Calla, loaned the items to Falvey for the display and wrote the commentary, “In Memory of My Grandmother.” Those words play a prominent role in the exhibit that explains how and when Signora Calla created the pieces.
In addition to being the proud grandson of Signora Calla, Richard Calla is the president of Il Circolo Italiano, a Main Line organization dedicated to the preservation and sharing of Italian culture. His daughter, Cynthia Calla Christenson, PhD, received both her bachelor’s degree (1987) and master’s degree (1989) from Villanova University.
This exhibit corresponds to the third annual Alfred F. Mannella and Rose T. Lauria-Mannella Distinguished Speakers Series lecture by Joan L. Saverino, PhD, on November 16. Dr. Saverino’s lecture addressed needlework, albeit embroidery, made by an immigrant from Calabria, the same area from which Signora Calla emigrated.
In 1996 Alfred S. Mannella, a 1958 graduate of the Villanova School of Business, established two endowed funds focusing on scholarship about Italian-American history, culture, and the immigrant experience as a memorial to family members. Originally, these funds were used to purchase books and other research materials. One of the funds now supports a lecture series which honors Alfred S. Mannella’s parents, Alfred F. Mannella and Rose T. Lauria-Mannell
This first floor display, mounted by Joanne Quinn, design specialist, also includes banners of Italian flags and photographs of vintage luggage which reflect the immigrants’ travels. Regina McFadden, library events and program coordinator, helped arrange the loan of the two pieces of needlework.
The display will be on view through November.
Contributed by Alice Bampton and Gerald Dierkes; photography by Alice Bampton