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The Sicilian Cart: A Moving History

Aug 3rd 2017

The Italian American Museum of Los Angeles (IAMLA) is pleased to announce The Sicilian Cart: A Moving History (June 30 – November 5, 2017) an exhibition dedicated to the tradition and symbol of Sicilian folklore known worldwide.

Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean. Its strategic geographic position—the crossroads between the Middle East, Africa, and Europe—drew many diverse peoples to its shores. Although conquests and invasions have shaped other parts of the world, on the sun-kissed lands of Sicily, the legacy of these exchanges is particularly evident. Among the island’s most recognized symbols of folk iconography, the carretto sicilano is an ornate horse- or donkey-drawn cart that emerged in the early 1800s as a popular means of transportation.


The cart’s illustrations of historic events, literary works, and religious subject matter imparted knowledge to a population that was often illiterate and assisted in the transmission of culture. Carretti illustrate the numerous cultures that left an imprint on Sicily, including the Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans, and French, and serve as an excellent guide for understanding the island’s multilayered history. Countering centuries of conquest and heartache with color and optimism, the carretto siciliano is said to embody the Sicilian spirit. The automobile eventually replaced the carretto, but the carts never disappeared from the Sicilian imagination. Carretti continue to occupy a revered place within Sicilian popular culture.  For the first time, two original Sicilian carretti, generously loaned by the MUSCÁ Museum of Taormina, Sicily, are being displayed in Los Angeles along with dozens of other pieces of folk art and elements from historic carts, some of which date to the early 20th century. Ancient coins, representing over two millennia of Sicilian History, will also be on display.


The exhibition examines the carts’ iconography, the process of making carretti, the artisans who continue this cherished craft and the cart’s role as folk and popular culture icons.  In collaboration with Dolce & Gabbana, whose collections are strongly linked with Sicilian folklore, the exhibit will showcase the carts’ presence in today’s fashion world thanks to the creativity of the Italian luxury brand. Sicily and the carretto theme are important aspects of the aesthetic of the fashion house’s founders, Domenico Dolce, a native Sicilian, and Stefano Gabbana. Five Dolce & Gabbana looks will be presented along with accessories.  "Beyond their captivating aesthetics, carretti serve as an excellent instrument through which to understand Sicily and the Sicilian soul," says Marianna Gatto, IAMLA executive director, who wrote and curated the exhibition. "The Italian American Museum of Los Angeles takes great pride in showcasing this cultural icon, and promoting understanding of Sicily itself, the island to which a great number of Italian Americans trace their ancestry.

"The carts’ vibrant colors and complex designs are the source of inspiration for new and unexpected projects. Our limited edition of hand-painted refrigerators and our NEW Small Domestic Appliances Collection called "Sicily Is My Love," made in collaboration with Dolce & Gabbana, are displayed for the first time in the United States.

Date: From June 30 to November 5,  2017

Location: 644 North Main Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 10 am – 3 pm (The museum is closed on Mondays and the following holidays: Christmas Day, Thanksgiving Day, New Year’s Day)

Admission: Free – Donations encouraged.

Web: www.IAMLA.org

Office Tel.: 213.485.8432

Directions: Take the Metro Red Line, Gold Line, or Purple Line to Union Station/Gateway Transit Center. Exit the station and walk across Alameda Street to El Pueblo Historical Monument. Continue west to Main Street, then walk north one block to Cesar Chavez Avenue. The IAMLA is located near the intersection of the 101 and 110 freeways. Parking: There are several parking options in the area: Lot 1 - 419 N. Main Street Lot 2 - 615 N. Main Street Lot 3 - 852 N. Alameda Street Parking rates vary Ilaria Bertelli Tel +39 0522 821960