Santina Amato

Artist Statement

My work takes inspiration from and uses materials found within the domestic environment such as flour, toilet paper, bedsheets, and discarded household furniture. These materials become signifiers in my work for a personal and intimate space where I explore the experience of the intimate body, especially the female body. Navigating any female experience, whether carving out one’s own identity beyond cultural traditions and expectations, breaking down gender stereotypes within both personal and professional relationships, or even as simple as presenting as female, requires labour. My practice sits within an interdisciplinary context from large-scale sculpture to durational live performance while considering and incorporating this labour. I delve into my experience of the labour it takes to be a woman in the world and translate it into a broader consideration of the female body’s physical, psychological, and social functions. The work results in an exploration of the labour involved in navigating those three states.

My muse is bread dough and relates back to my immigrant Italian childhood, where dough was no foreign matter. 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 on our kitchen table. Folding the dough over onto itself and pushing her whole body towards it, she transformed the ingredients of flour and water into a living organism, created for both our oral pleasure and life sustenance. As a material focus, I am interested in the life cycle of bread dough and its ephemeral qualities. 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 the dough is full and voluminous, just before it begins to ‘die’.

While many similarities between the life cycle of dough and my body emerge throughout my work, the domestic and physical labour processes evident when working with this material are also of great consideration. In a contemporary culture where the personal has become political out of necessity in achieving bodily autonomy, especially for women, labour presents itself in many forms.


Santina Amato was born in Melbourne, Australia to Italian immigrants, and has lived and worked in the USA since 2010. She works in a wide range of mediums and formats from sculpture to live performances, and explores the experience of the intimate body. In her work, desire and erotica are translated into a broader consideration of the physical, psychological, and social functions of the female body through domestic materials such as bread dough and used bedsheets. She considers and incorporates domestic labour when handling these materials that become signifiers for a personal and intimate space.

Amato received an MFA (Photography) from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2017) and was a 2022 AIM Fellow at the Bronx Museum of Art in New York. In 2023, she received funding from the New York State Council on the Art, Individual Artist Grant, and a 2023 Queens Arts Fund, New Work Grant, and was a Mentor for the New York Foundation for the Arts, Immigrant Artist Program. She also was the Program Director of an Artist-In-Residence Summer Pilot Program at Rockella Space in Queens, New York.

Amato's work has been exhibited at the Bronx Museum as part of The Sixth AIM Biennale, Field Projects, NYC, Springbreak, NYC, Samek Art Museum, Bucknell University, PA, The Arts Club of Chicago, Chicago, IL, MOCA Tucson, AZ, Here Arts Center, NYC, Governors Island Art Fair, NYC and the Kuntshalle Detroit Museum of Contemporary Art, MI. She has received funding from city and state agencies in New York and Illinois, and the Australian Council for the Arts among others. Her work has been included in publications such as Chicago Artist Writers, Emergency Index, Psychology Tomorrow Magazine, CreateMagazine, and Lenscratch.

In 2018, Amato was named as a Hot Pick Artist by Smack Mellon, Brooklyn, NY, and she has held positions as Fellow and Artist-in-Residence at MoCA Tucson, AZ, supported by the Illinois Arts Council Agency (IACA), MASS MoCA in North Adams, MA supported by the City of Chicago's DCASE, 2018 IAP Grant, Crosstown Arts, Memphis, TN, Process Park, Artslant Chashama, Pine Plains, NY, BRIC Arts Media, Brooklyn, NY. Amato Founded and Directed Moving_Image_00:00, a biannual festival in Chicago of moving image works by Chicago-based artists from 2016-2019. 

Her work is part of a collective photographic portfolio at The Joan Flasch Artist' Book Collection and The Art Institute of Chicago, and video collection at the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne, Australia and the Samek Art Museum, Lewisburg, PA



Emergency Grant, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, USA

Individual Artist Grant, New York State Council on the Arts, NY, USA

New Work Grant, Queens Arts Fund, NY, USA

Mentor, Immigrant Artist Program, New York Foundation for the Arts, NYC, USA


AIM Fellow, Bronx Museum of Art, NYC, USA 

Grant, The Mayer Foundation, NYC, USA

Commission, New York Botanical Gardens, NYC, USA

Artist-in-Residence, 4 Heads Portal, Governors Island, NYC, USA


Artist-in-Residence, 4 Heads Portal, Governors Island, NYC, USA


Artist-in-Residence, Bethany Arts Community, Ossining, NY, USA


Grant, Professional Development, Illinois Arts Council Agency (IACA)

Grant, Individual Artists Program (IAP), City of Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events (DCASE)

Artist-in-Residence, Museum of Contemporary Art, Tucson, AZ, USA


Hot Pick Artist, Smack Mellon, Brooklyn, NY, USA

Artist-in-Residence, Process Park, Artslant & Chashama, Pine Plains, NY, USA

Artist-in-Residence, Crosstown Arts Center, Memphis, TN, USA

Artist-in-Residence, MASS MOCA, North Adams, MA, USA

Grant, Illinois Arts Council Agency (IACA) Individual Artist Support Project Grant

Grant, Individual Artists Program (IAP), City of Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events (DCASE)


Artist-in-Residence, Field/Work (2017/2018), Chicago Artist Coalition (CAC), Chicago, USA

Artist-in-Residence, ACRE (Artists' Cooperative Residency and Exhibitions), Steuben, WI, USA

Writing Fellow, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, USA


Honorable Mention Award, ExFest 2016 Film/Video Festival, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, USA

Angela & George Paterakis Scholarship, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, USA

Writing Fellow, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, USA


Leroy Neiman Scholarship, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, USA

Travel Grant, Ian Potter Cultural Trust Fund, Melbourne, Australia

Artist-in-Residence, Summer Artist Institute, LMCC/ Creative Capital, New York, USA