Parallel Expressions




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Fordham University Press


Book chapter

Peer reviewed



This chapter reveals the artistic contributions of Italian immigrants in the Río de la Plata Basin of South America—Argentina, Uruguay, and southern Brazil—which ran parallel to the lifetime of Simon Rodia in the United States. It outlines how, through the eyes of Italian immigrants, the common value of the everyday became manifest in hybridized expressions. It also identifies the differences in modes of expression of two major groups of contributors in South America. The first grouping of artists concentrated more on social themes through pictorial narratives that were often poignant critiques of everyday life in their countries as experienced by the working-class natives, former slaves, and immigrants. The second major grouping included avant-garde artists whose works were far less narrative and more abstract in aesthetic expression. Interwoven into these narratives are questions regarding issues of marginality and displacement: When does an individual, a group of people, or a work of art make the transition from the margins to the center of society? What are the factors that allow such a radical change? Who determines when and under what terms this transition may happen?


This work was carried out at MMU


Sabatino Rodia, Simon Rodia, Italian immigrants, South America, expression, narratives, artists, marginality, displacement


Epolito, G. (2014) Parallel Expressions: Artistic Contributions of Italian Immigrants in the Río de la Plata Basin of South America at the Time of Simon Rodia. In: Sabato Rodia's Towers in Watts: Art, Migrations, Development, edited by Luisa Del Giudice. Fordham University Press, 2014


Research Institute