Today, we are taking our third cross country road trip in five months. In honor of our seemingly tertian treks, it seems only appropriate to bring you something from the road this Artwork Monday.
I give you Americana. A glimpse of life on the road in America, through the eyes of an immigrant.
“From Italy, America seemed the country of modern epics, a country where people were not afraid, where people were not worn out by the weight of history and cultural conformism yet.” — Paolo Ferraris, Artist
An Italian citizen, Paolo first came to America as a tourist at the age of twelve. A summer vacation with family. At 18, he spent a month exploring the Midwest as part of a cultural exchange program.
Over the years, he has seen sea to shining sea, traveling to all but eight American states.
A slow seduction, Paolo came to live in America nearly a decade ago.
In 2012, Paolo released Americana.
A culmination of observations. An insider and an outsider all at once.
“America was the land where you are your name and movement is a necessity. The road epitomizes America and America epitomizes the road.
I love taking road trips in the US. I love what I see and the effect it has on my soul. The concept of the road as the means to go from point A, to point B, disappears almost instantly. I am no longer fleeing from my past or yearning for a future that doesn’t exist. I am living the present, the recipe for happiness, mile after mile.
On the road I feel alive.” — Paolo Ferraris, Artist
Now, awaiting his final approval for American citizenship, I wondered, had time changed Paolo’s perception of America since creating Americana?
“I think the signs were already there. People were already disagreeing on things. It felt divided back then too, when I arrived.”
Does the political anxiety America is experiencing, change your mind about wanting to live in America?
“No. Not at all. It’s also the way I am. If there is a problem, you fix it, it’s not running away that makes things more palletable. You have to fix it. Running is not who I am.”
To Paolo, America is a dreamy, beautiful land.
“As Artists, the best thing we can do, is to daydream. America is a good place to daydream.”
I asked Paolo, what he meant. Why is day-dreaming important to him as an Artist and why he connect it to America.
“Usually you have a good dream and you wake up. In a daydream, it’s not an illusion. There is no disappointment of waking up. People are free in their mind here in America. We are encouraged to dream here.
When you go live in another country you live in a no man’s land. My interpretation of this country, is what colors my experience of living here.”
I thought about what Paolo said. To me, it makes perfect sense.
Working towards dual citizenship myself, I often dream of us moving to Italy. In the past, I have been surprised by Paolo’s hesitancy to consider a return. Now, after years of traveling and seeing more of Italy, I understand.
To me, Italy represented the possibility for a more relaxing lifestyle. Of healthcare we can afford. As an outsider, I have not felt stifled by tradition or conservatism of Italy.
As an American growing up in America, my decision to live an unconventional life has been met with surprise, but rarely scorn. I have not seen first hand the struggles of Italian youth.
It’s my interpretation of life in Italy, that I live in my head.
For Paolo, becoming an immigrant in America enabled him to observe and project at once. He is living a dream at the same time he is reconciling that dream to current reality.
An insider and outsider all at once.