The exhibit Doors of Memory/Porte della Memoia at the QCC Art Gallery, showcases a collection of 25 original photographs of old doors and windows taken in Avella, Italy. This photographic essay by artist Eleanor M. Imperato pays homage to her birthplace, Avella. These are the doors of memory that link her to her ancestors’ lives, her early childhood spent surrounded by beautiful mountain vistas and a medieval castle on a hill.
The images include a graceful arch over a time-worn blue door, a dark opening flanked by crumbling walls that resemble friezes on an ancient temple, and a portal that reveals a scene reminiscent of a Renaissance painting. The last photograph in the exhibit is of trees growing above a locked door. Imperato suggests that, “Life springs anew from ancient secrets buried under the earth. They may seem locked away forever, but through my camera lens, I found the key, opened the doors of memory, and stepped into a treasure trove.”
Faustino Quintanilla, Executive Director of the QCC Art Gallery, said that this exhibit offers, “A sensory-rich experience and the opportunity to enjoy the work of a perceptive, talented artist who is sure to inspire an extremely diverse population of students as well as the community at large.”
Imperato hopes that, “Viewers, immigrants or not, will feel that primeval pull that birthplace elicits in our hearts, without diminishing the strong identity we feel for the place we call home.”
Imperato, who is also a freelance writer and a poet, deepens the metaphor of doors as channels between her American identity and her Italian legacy in the book that accompanies the exhibit. Also entitled Doors of Memory/Porte della Memoia, the publication is a memoir in prose and poetry of her early years in Avella, presented in both the English and Italian languages. Lavishly illustrated with many more of her photographs, the book also includes a brief overview of Avella’s rich history.
Eleanor M. Imperato co-authored a biography of Martin and Osa Johnson, They Married Adventure, with her husband, Pascal James Imperato. She is the author of Woman’s Work, her first collection of poems. Her second collection of poems, Purple Sins, is in preparation. In addition, she is collaborating with her sisters Patrizia Maiella, translator of Doors of Memory/ Porte della Memoia, and Tonia Maiella, on a book about their Italian-American immigrant experience during the late 1950s and 1960s in New York City.
Imperato is currently on the College Fund Board of Queensborough Community College as well as on the Board of the Dance Department at Marymount Manhattan College where she received a bachelor’s degree in English. She subsequently received a master’s degree in Liberal Studies from New York University.
Since 1966, the QCC Art Gallery has been an integral part of Queensborough Community College’s mission to educate its students and enrich the College, the Borough of Queens and the surrounding communities. The Gallery, housed in the beautifully renovated, historic 1920’s Oakland Building, formally the Club House for the Oakland Golf Club, was awarded a Queensmark in recognition of its historical and cultural merit. Its permanent African Art collection has received critical acclaim from The New York Times. Recent major exhibits include BUNDU – Sowei Headpieces of the Sande Society of West Africa; Three Generations, a collection of drawings and paintings of Ayamonte, Spain by Rafael, Florencio and Chenko Aguilera; a photographic essay by Dan Budnik, Marching the Dream: American Civil Rights; Icons of Loss: The Art of Samuel Bak; and Early Chinese Pottery from a private collection.