How Daniel Paterna Captured the Italian-American Experience

Jun 27, 2021 788

BY: Andrew Cotto

Growing up in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn in the 1960s and 70s, Daniel Paterna was well aware of the sweeping yet often inaccurate stereotype of his Italian-American enclave. “In my household, my parents frowned on the clichés of the Italian-American gangster or buffoon,” Paterna says. “It was an earnest way of life: no guns, no mafia, no dead bodies, no drugs. Music, food, and family — that was our story.”

And many years later, after graduating from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, where he studied graphic design and photography before entering the workforce as a creative director, Paterna was inspired to reflect on the story of his family and community while living on his own in Boston.

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