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The Diner (Coming to America)


The overall theme of the assemblage is immigration, but as I worked on it, the focus narrowed to coming to the United States as a refugee.

With its cheerful red and silver furniture and classic Coca Cola logos, the 1950s diner is an American icon. The bright décor symbolizes the image of America as beacon of hope and a place of refuge. To highlight the vibrant and cheerful furniture, I chose platinum rather than silver for the walls. To help emulate the brightness of retro diners, I placed mirrors behind a strand of citrine (a semiprecious stone), pearls and Murano glass.

I wanted to contrast this cheery atmosphere with the chilling reality that prompts someone to seek refuge in another country, possibly at a moment’s notice. The phone left off the hook represents the need to drop everything when fleeing. The delicate piece of lingerie represents the need to leave virtually everything behind, to bring along only the most precious, portable possessions.

Even the framed document — designed to look like a business license — has a story to tell. My father came to the United States as a refugee from Europe during World War II. To receive his US visa, he had to provide verification of his work history. The black frame contains a portion of that work history, specifically verification by the Banca Commerciale d’Italia that my father “left” the Bank in February 1939 in accordance with articles 20 and 21 of RDL 17 November 1938, VII, no. 1728. A clinical way of stating that the Bank fired my father because he was Jewish (the cited articles being the Italian Racial Laws which, among other things, made it illegal for Jews to work in any profession).

Additional materials include mirrors, metal, wood, paper, wire, and fabric.

Custom framed with museum glass in a sophisticated deep wooden frame in collaboration with Chevy Chase Art Gallery, Washington, DC.

Price: USD 2,500.

Frame color: Black

Size (in inches): 12.5 x 18.75 x 4


Though many designs appear simple, each work in fact takes several months to create. The final version is rarely the one initially envisioned; the laws of gravity force numerous adjustments. Execution involves a multitude of skills, some of which are acquired specifically to achieve the desired artistic result. In fact, it took several years of experimenting before I even hit upon a technique for creating assemblages. 

The framing process is itself a component of the work, both conceptually and artistically. Though the frame is clean and modern in appearance, the framing process is not as simple as it seems. The determination whether to create a "room" (as with Born Free) or an intimate atmosphere (as with What Price Silence) is in fact part of the artistic process.  

Works are custom framed to provide sufficient depth to accomplish my artistic goals as well as to support the weight of the work (often 40-60 pounds). The 4-inch deep decorative wooden frame curves outward to bring the work closer to the viewer.  

As many designs are supported by the base as well as the backing, the framing process can be tricky. It took several months of experimentation to determine how to create a work that it was practical to frame. The glass protects the work from damaged caused by dust and dusting.

Assemblage silver frame model.jpg
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