The IAMLA presents "Woven Lives: Exploring Women’s Needlework from the Italian Diaspora"

Jan 15, 2022 643

BY: Francesca Guerrini

The Italian American Museum of Los Angeles (IAMLA) is pleased to present a new exhibition, Woven Lives: Exploring Women’s Needlework from the Italian Diaspora, which examines the significance of needlework in the lives of Italian American women, their families, and communities from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. On View: January 29 – October 16, 2022

The exhibition reconsiders the role of needlework beyond its aesthetic value and utilitarian purposes and recognizes it as an extraordinary medium for expressing and preserving culture. Woven Lives showcases a variety of handmade textiles created by Italian American women.

Taken together, the needlework communicates the experiences, hopes, beliefs, and perspectives of the various generations of Italian American women who practiced the craft. Woven Lives illustrates how traditions survive, change, disappear, and reemerge in immigrant and transplanted communities and sheds greater light on the millions of Italian women who immigrated to the United States.

The IAMLA launched a call for artifacts through social media, and more than 200 responses were received from across the U.S. and Australia. Over a hundred artifacts are on display, some of them part of the IAMLA collection, from the most humble to the most luxurious, items that were part of dowries and those that were fashioned for ceremonial and household use.

“Women’s voices have often been excluded from historical narratives,” explains Marianna Gatto, executive director of the Italian American Museum of Los Angeles. “Woven Lives explores untold stories of women using items made by their own hands and provides a long-overdue acknowledgment for the role they played in preserving traditions, supporting their families, and creating communities.”

Woven Lives: Exploring Women’s Needlework from the Italian Diaspora was made possible with the generous support of California Humanities, California Arts Council, Istituto Italiano di Cultura, Christian Gerola Trust, D’Aiello Sandoval Family, Getty Foundation, Councilmember Kevin DeLeón, and El Pueblo de Los Angeles.

As part of the Woven Lives: Exploring Women’s Needlework from the Italian Diaspora exhibition, the IAMLA scheduled the following events:

Sunday, March 27, 2022 – Virtual Book Presentation via Facebook – Talking to the Girls: Intimate and Political Essays on the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, edited by Edvige Giunta and Mary Anne Trasciatti, New Village Press, 2022. The book is a collection of candid and intimate accounts of the female factory-worker tragedy that shaped American labor rights.

Saturday, April 30, 2022 – Italian Needle Lace Workshop – conducted by artist Carly Chubak at the Italian American Museum of Los Angeles, 644 North Main Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Participants will be introduced to the basics of Italian punto in aria, “stitches in the air,” one of the earliest styles of needlelace, developed out of cutwork and drawn thread embroidery in the 1500s. Participants will learn this historical craft and make their own sample of lace using only a needle, thread, and a fabric base.

Free Workshop • Space limited • Registration required

For Calendar Listings

Woven Lives: Exploring Women’s Needlework from the Italian Diaspora

Date: January 29 – to October 16, 2022

Hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Closed Mondays.

Address: 644 North Main Street (corner of Cesar Chavez Avenue) Los Angeles, 90012. Tel. (213) 485-8432. 

Directions: Take the Metro Red Line, Gold Line, or Purple Line to Union Station/Gateway Transit Center. Exit the station and walk across N. Alameda Street to El Pueblo Historical Monument. Continue west to Main Street, then walk north one block to Cesar Chavez. The IAMLA is located near the 101 and 110 freeway intersection.

Admission: Free. Donations encouraged.

Parking: There are several parking options in the area.
Lot 1 – 419 N. Main Street
Lot 2 – 615 N. Main Street

COVID-19 Procedures: Per City of Los Angeles ordinance, proof of vaccination is required to visit the IAMLA. Those with medical or religious exemptions may present a negative COVID-19 test performed within 72 hours. Everyone 2 years of age and older must wear a mask while visiting the IAMLA.

About the Italian American Museum of Los Angeles (IAMLA)

The Italian American Museum of Los Angeles (IAMLA) explores the Italian American experience in the context of the nation’s multicultural mosaic. The 6,000 square-foot museum is located in downtown Los Angeles and features an award-winning permanent exhibition, which is also accessible online, as well as temporary exhibitions, cultural-educational programming, and curricula for educators. The IAMLA is housed in the Italian Hall, which was constructed in 1908 as a community center. The Italian Hall is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is among the oldest remaining structures from the city’s historic Little Italy. The IAMLA is a 501(c) 3 charitable organization; admission to the museum is free. For more information, visit

SOURCE: Italian American Museum of Los Angeles

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