Santina Amato is a multimedia artist whose work addresses the notion of the intimate body, especially the female body. Her practice incorporates video, sculpture, installation, painting and photography and is deeply rooted in psychoanalytic thinking and feminist theory, attempting to translate the complexities of her own female sexuality, desire and erotica within a patriarchal system. As a material focus, her interest in using bread dough within an interdisciplinary artistic dialogue, is its life cycle. Once activated by warm water and sugar, yeast cells split and divide in a process reminiscent of when an egg is fertilized by sperm. There is a peak moment when dough is voluptuous, full, and ripe just before it begins to 'die'.
Amato was born in Australia to Italian immigrants, and has lived and worked in the USA since 2010. She received an MFA (Photography) from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2017) and a BFA (Painting) from the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne Australia (2009). Her first solo exhibition in the USA titled Monster, was supported by the Illinois Arts Council Agency (IACA), Individual Artist Support Project Grant and exhibited at Heaven Gallery in Chicago, IL in 2018. She is a current Smack Mellon Hot Pick Artist for 2018/2019 and Artist-in-Residence at Crosstown Art, Memphis, Tennessee.
Exhibitions and screenings include Here Arts Center, NYC, Governors Island Art Fair, NYC, Leroy Neiman Center, Chicago, IL, ExFest Film & Video Festival, Chicago, IL, Detroit International Videonale, Kuntshalle Detroit Museum of Contemporary Art, MI, CURRENTS, Santa Fe International New Media Art Festival, NM, Brooklyn Public TV, NY, and The International Women’s Day Video Screening in Melbourne, Australia.
Amato has held positions as Fellow and Artist-in-Residence at MASS MoCA in North Adams, MA supported by the City of Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events (DCASE), Individual Artists Program (IAP) Grant, Process Park, Artslant & Chashama, Pine Plains, NY, Filed/Work Program, Chicago Artist Coalition, Chicago, IL, Artists' Cooperative Residency & Exhibitions (ACRE), Steuben, WI, Artspace Visual Arts Center, Sydney, Australia, New York Art Residency and Studios Foundation, NYC and BRIC Media Arts House, NYC.
Amato is Founder and Director of Moving_Image_00:00, a biannual festival in Chicago of moving image works created by Chicago-based artists. Her work is part of a collective photographic portfolio at The Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection and The Art Institute of Chicago and video collection at the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne, Australia.
I am interested in material processes and work in a wide range of mediums and formats from 9 x 5 inch paint works on paper to large-scale installations that respond to the architectural features within site-specific contexts. As a material focus, my particular interest in using bread dough within my installations, sculptures, video and photographic works, and in particular, live settings, is its life cycle; once activated by warm water and sugar, the cells of yeast split and divide, similarly to when an egg is fertilized by sperm. There is a peak moment when dough is voluptuous, full, and ripe, just before it begins to ‘die’.
By observing the similarities in the life process of dough and my own body – the way it moves, the way it feels, the way it is observed by others, the way it is perceived by the self, its temporal relationship to the world & to others – I attempt to translate the complexities associated with my own experience of being female, my relationship to my own body and those that I desire, female heterosexuality, desire, erotica, intimacy, and aging, through an interdisciplinary artistic dialogue of video, sculpture, ceramics, performance, installation, painting and photography.
This attraction to the materiality of dough relates back to my childhood growing up within an immigrant Italian household in Australia, where dough was no foreign matter and gender roles were clearly in place. My first memory and experience of femininity and the power of creation (and potentially female desire) was watching my mother knead this soft, white, voluptuous material. Folding it over and onto itself, pushing her whole body towards it – back and forth, back and forth¬– while steering the dough with her hands, she transformed it from flour and water into our existence as a living organism, to be consumed by our bodies, via our mouths.
My work is formal in its presentation, biomorphic in form, addressing the basic notion of the intimate body, especially the female body. I am interested in the visceral relationship between the physical, the psychological, and the social of the functioning body – the mess, the goo, the merging, the mixing, the exchange, the mutual consumption. The work results in abstract reflections on the psychosexual nature of intimacy, as if captured in an ongoing stage of metamorphosis.
School of Art Institute of Chicago
Master of Fine Art (Photography), 2017
2015 – 2017 • Chicago, IL, U.S.A
Victorian College of the Arts
Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours)
2009 – 2009 • Melbourne, Australia
Victorian College of the Arts
Bachelor of Fine Arts (Painting)
2005 – 2007 • Melbourne, Australia
Diploma in Visual Arts
2003 – 2004 • Melbourne, Australia
Hot Pick Artist, Smack Mellon, Brooklyn, NY [link]
Individual Artist Support Project Grant, Illinois Arts Council Agency (IACA)
Individual Artists Program (IAP) Grant, City of Chicago’s DCASE [link]
Artist-in-Residence Process Park, Artslant & Chashama
Artist-In-Residence, Crosstown Arts Center (Forthcoming) [link]
Artist-In-Residence, MASS MoCA (Forthcoming) [link]
Field/Works Artist-In-Residence, Chicago Artist Coalition [link]
Artist-In-Residence, ACRE, Steuben, WI [link]
Honorable Mention Award, ExFest 2016 Film/Video Festival, Chicago, U.S A [link]
Angela & George Paterakis Scholarship, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
LeRoy Neiman Scholarship, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Travel Grant, The Ian Potter Cultural Trust (Melbourne, Australia) [link]
Dame Joan Sutherland Fund, American Australian Association, New York, NY [link]
Media Artist Fellowship, BRIC Media Arts House, Brooklyn, NY [link]
Immigrant Artist Program, New York Foundation for the Arts, New York, NY [link]
Artist-in-Residence, Artspace Visual Arts Centre, Sydney, Australia [link]
Summer Studio Artist-in-Residence, BLINDSIDE Artist Run Initiative, Melbourne, Australia [link]
New Work Early Career, Australia Council for the Arts, Australia [link]
ArtStart Initiative, Australia Council for the Arts, Australia [link]
Artist-in-Residence, New York Artist Residency & Studio Foundation, Brooklyn, NY [link]
Summer Artist-in-Residence, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia [link]
Artist-in-Residence, Kala Art Institute, Berkley, CA [link]
Cultural Fund Travel Grant, Copyright Agency Limited, Australia [link]
Travel Grant, Ian Potter Cultural Trust Fund, Australia [link]