Tunnel, 2005

Tunnel, 2005

Nautical towline, silver thread, shoelaces, hardware.

Installation commissioned by and in the collection of the Jersey City Museum, Jersey City, NJ.

By 2005 the autobiographical stories that ran alongside the formal investigations were as much a generative part of the work as they were a means to connect with specific regional histories shared by my extended family. I was especially keen on honoring those that embraced intellectual well as working class values. My eldest maternal uncle, Augustine Nigro, and his wife Eleanor provided the perfect subject for the Jersey City Art Museum commission.  Family stories told of Augie working on a crew that dug the Holland Tunnel, and Eleanor commuting on the ferry from their home in Jersey City to work in a slipper factory in Manhattan. In addition  it was Eleanor and Augustine’s sons August J. (a writer and retired professor of English Literature) and Michael A. (professor and well-published child neurologist) that set the precedent for my brother’s, sister’s and my own higher education. August was my Mothers godchild. The mention of his name and accomplishments would automatically soften my mother to even allow her daughters’ departure from home to college. For me it was the first of many breaks away from the dictates of an Italian-American woman’s path – one that required living at home until heterosexual marriage and childrearing. As stories go, Augie and Eleanor’s was a very good one, allowing me to tie multiple formal and cultural pieces together. However, as time has passed, we found that the connection to Jersey City was indeed a mythical: Uncle Augie didn’t dig the Holland, but rather the Lincoln and 6th Avenue, New York Tunnels. and they lived in most years in Union City,NJ having only passed through Jersey City (perhaps to take the ferry).


Jersey City Museum. First Look: The Essential Guide to Jersey City Museum, New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2006


NY Times article