Santina Amato

Artist Statement

I was raised in Australia by Italian immigrants and groomed by my mother to become the perfect housewife because in her eyes, my gender automatically placed me within that role from birth. By rejecting traditional gender roles in my adulthood and becoming an immigrant to the US, home has become an abstract reality, causing me to question what domesticity is to a person who chooses not to have a committed partner, nor children and especially so as a woman.

My work explores the physical and/or ephemeral nature of certain materials that relate back to the domestic environment such as bread dough, fresh produce, bed sheets or discarded furniture. Working in photo, video, sculpture, and live performance, I attempt to challenge associations of these materials to the domestic space by placing them within new contexts.

My attraction to the materiality of dough relates back to my immigrant childhood, where dough was no foreign matter. My first memory and experience of femininity and the power of creation (and potentially female desire) was watching my mother knead this soft, white, voluptuous material on our kitchen table. Folding the dough over onto itself and pushing her whole body towards it, she transformed the ingredients of flour and water into a living organism, created for both our oral pleasure and life sustenance. 

As a material focus, I am interested in the life cycle of bread dough; once activated by warm water and sugar, the cells of yeast split and divide, similarly to when an egg is fertilized by sperm. There is a peak moment when dough is voluptuous, full, and ripe, just before it begins to ‘die’. While there are many similarities between the life cycle of dough and my body that emerge throughout my work, there are also similarities in the labor processes when working with these domestic materials. Labor exists in navigating any female experience whether carving out ones own identity beyond cultural traditions and expectations or breaking down gender stereotypes within both personal and professional relationships. 


Santina Amato was born in Australia to Italian immigrants, and has lived and worked in the USA since 2010. She works in a wide range of mediums and formats from painting to sewn sculptures, creating installations, sculptures, video and photographic works, and live performances. Amato is interested in the physical nature of varying materials that relate back to the domestic environment, such as bread dough, bed sheets, and fresh produce, and labor processes used when working with these materials.

Amato is current AIM Fellow at the Bronx Museum of Art in New York and received an MFA (Photography) from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2017). Her work has been supported by The Illinois Arts Council Agency, the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events and the Australian Council for the Arts among others. Exhibitions and screenings include Samek Art Museum, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA, The Arts Club of Chicago, Chicago, IL, Here Arts Center, NYC, Governors Island Art Fair, NYC and Detroit International Videonale, Kuntshalle Detroit Museum of Contemporary Art, MI.

Amato has held positions as Fellow and Artist-in-Residence at MOCA Tucson supported by the Illinois Arts Council Agency (IACA), MASS MoCA in North Adams, MA supported by the City of Chicago's DCASE, 2018 IAP Grant, Crosstown Arts, Memphis, TN, Process Park, Artslant & Chashama, Pine Plains, NY, Filed/Work Program, Chicago Artist Coalition, Chicago, IL.  Her work has been included in publications such as Emergency Index, CreateMagazine, and Lenscratch.

In 2016, Amato Founded and Directed Moving_Image_00:00, a biannual festival in Chicago of moving image works by Chicago-based artists that ran until 2019. Her work is part of a collective photographic portfolio at The Joan Flasch Artist' Book Collection and The Art Institute of Chicago, and video collection at the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne, Australia and the Samek Art Museum, Lewsiburg, PA.

Amato is currently Artist In Residence at 4Heads Portal on Governors Island through to the end of August, 2022.



AIM Fellow, Bronx Museum of Art, NYC, USA 2021

Grant, The Mayer Foundation, NYC, USA

Commission, New York Botanical Gardens, NYC, USA


Artist-in-Residence, 4 Heads Portal, Governors Island, NYC, USA


Artist-in-Residence, Bethany Arts Community, Ossining, NY, USA


Grant, Professional Development, Illinois Arts Council Agency (IACA)

Grant, Individual Artists Program (IAP), City of Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events (DCASE)

Artist-in-Residence, Museum of Contemporary Art, Tucson, AZ, USA


2018/2019 Hot Pick Artist, Smack Melon, Brooklyn, NY, USA

Artist-in-Residence, Process Park, Artslant & Chashama, Pine Plains, NY, USA

Artist-in-Residence, Crosstown Arts Center, Memphis, TN, USA

Artist-in-Residence, MASS MOCA, North Adams, MA, USA

Grant, Illinois Arts Council Agency (IACA) Individual Artist Support Project Grant

Grant, Individual Artists Program (IAP), City of Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events (DCASE)


Artist-in-Residence, Field/Work (2017/2018), Chicago Artist Coalition (CAC), Chicago, USA

Artist-in-Residence, ACRE (Artists' Cooperative Residency and Exhibitions), Steuben, WI, USA

Writing Fellow, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, USA


Honorable Mention Award, ExFest 2016 Film/Video Festival, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, USA

Angela & George Paterakis Scholarship, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, USA

Writing Fellow, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, USA


Leroy Neiman Scholarship, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, USA

Travel Grant, Ian Potter Cultural Trust Fund, Melbourne, Australia

Artist-in-Residence, Summer Artist Institute, LMCC/ Creative Capital, New York, USA