Santina Amato

Artist Statement


I work in a wide range of mediums and formats from painting to sewn sculptures, while also creating installations, sculptures, video and photographic works, and live performances. I am interested in the physical nature of various materials that relate back to the domestic environment, such as bread dough, bed sheets, and fresh produce, and the labor processes used when working with these materials. The ephemeral nature of some domestic materials I use create limitations and challenges that reflect back onto our own (in particular their life cycle) as a container of flesh and blood navigating the world within a limited time frame. I am also interested in the metaphor of the bed being a stage for life’s failures and successes; a stage for the creation of life, a stage for the exit from life that is death, the pleasure the physical body experiences with others and the comfort it provides when all else fails in life.


My practice embraces the challenge of presenting materials that are heavily associated and identified with the domestic environment, by placing it within a new context and attempting to remove any connotations from its original associations. Of course my attempts fail because the materials themselves have a strong relationship to the domestic, some having been born within it, such as bread dough. I see this as a similar battle to my position in the world having been raised within a traditional immigrant family, where gender roles were clearly in place and the domestic stage was set for me to exist within it from birth, in a very particular, and expected way.


As a material focus, my interest in using bread dough within my installations, sculptures, video and photographic works, and in particular, live settings, is its life cycle. Once yeast is activated with warm water and sugar, its cells 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’.


This attraction to the materiality of dough relates back to my childhood growing up within an immigrant Italian household in Australia, where dough was no foreign matter and gender roles were clearly in place. 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. Folding it over and onto itself, pushing her whole body towards it – back and forth, back and forth¬– while steering the dough with her hands, she transformed it from flour and water into our existence as a living organism, to be consumed by our bodies, via our mouths.


By observing the similarities in the life processes of dough and my own body – the way it moves, the way it feels, the way it is observed by others, the way it is perceived by the self, its temporal relationship to the world & to others – I attempt to translate the complexities associated with my own experience of being female, my relationship to my own body and those that I desire, female heterosexuality, desire, erotica, intimacy, and aging, through an interdisciplinary artistic dialogue.


Biography


Santina Amato is based in Brooklyn, NY and current Artist In Residence at 4Heads Portal on Governors Island, NYC. She was born in Australia to Italian immigrants, having lived and worked in the USA since 2010. Amato works in a wide range of mediums and formats from painting to sewn sculptures, while also creating installations, sculptures, video and photographic works, and live performances. She 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 the labor processes used when working with these materials.


Amato received an MFA (Photography) from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2017) and 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. 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.



Awards


2021

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

2020 

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

2019 

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

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)

2017 

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

2016 

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

2015 

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

2014 

Project Grant, Dame Joan Sutherland Fund, American Australian Association, New York, USA

Fellow, BRIC Arts | Media House, Brooklyn, NY, USA

2013 

Artist-in-Residence, Immigrant Artist Program, New York Foundation for the Arts, New York, USA

Artist-in-Residence, Artspace Visual Arts Centre, Sydney, Australia

Artist-in-Residence Summer Studio, Blindside Contemporary Art Space, Melbourne, Australia

2012 

Finalist, Toyota Spirit Travel Award, Australia

New Work Early Career Grant, Australia Council for the Arts, Australia

ArtStart Initiative Fund, Australia Council for the Arts, Australia

Artist-in-Residence, New York Artist Residency & Studio Foundation, New York, USA

Artist-in-Residence, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia

2011 

Finalist, Toyota Spirit Travel Award, Australia

2010 

Honourable Mention, Kala Art Institute Fellowship Program, USA

Travel Grant, Copyright Agency Limited, Australia

Finalist, Williamstown Festival Contemporary Art Prize, Australia

Artist-in-Residence, Kala Art Institute, San Francisco, USA