These textual works are about the dialogic space of affection, which takes shape not only in verbal endearments but also in hearing another when they speak.
Growing up, I always preferred to sit beside a grandparent at family gatherings. I felt that they truly saw me—perhaps because I too saw them, through and beyond the “age of invisibility.” I learned from the history of their experiences and the twilight of their memories. Sergio and Pierina Pietrobon called me “cea,” “little girl” in Veneto dialect local to Treviso. Bertilla and Onorino Basso called me “stella” (the Italian word for “star”), “piccola” (“little one”), “amore” (“love”), or “tesoro” (“treasure”). The words still hold a warmth and welcome for me—as though they are uniquely mine.
Rendered in trusses of silk fibers, I draw a textural parallel between the gentleness with which my grandfathers addressed me in these tender terms and the velvety softness of these strands—love felt not in the word alone, but in the way it was said. Mounting these satiny letters on the wall, I also refer to the feminist work of Italian artist Marisa Merz, who likewise rendered her daughter Bea’s name in thread.
While these words capture my memories, I intend for this to be a collaborative work, which opens to the same intimacy for others who experience it. Those who are interested in having this installed in their homes can request specialized letters that spell out the name that a loved one called them.