BFA senior Alessandra Puglisi presents final thesis project in reflection of Sicilian roots

Family, food and faith are three major pillars of Sicilian life.

Scoglitti, Sicily’s annual celebration of the Feast of Saint Joseph (March 19) was an amalgamation of all three, which explains why it ranks among Alessandra Puglisi’s most poignant childhood memories.

“I remember my Nonna and others in the town would make these bread sculptures. You couldn’t eat them. They were braided, elaborate. It felt like it was the size of my whole body,” said Puglisi, 30, a senior at the Mason Gross School of the Arts who emigrated from Sicily to Hampton, N.J., with her family when she was 11. “Massive tables that spanned entire rooms were set up to hold this gigantic feast. Everyone traveled around town to see them and sample from them. Someone would dress up as St. Joseph and knock on doors.”

Those bread-laden tables lovingly prepared with family as an offering to Saint Joseph are the inspiration behind Puglisi’s senior thesis sculpture: “Offerings.”

“In Italy, even if you’re not Catholic, you’re Catholic,” said Puglisi, who is majoring in visual arts and minoring in fine arts. “I came here and lost contact with that. I was a militant atheist for a while, and now I’m agnostic. But I love the Catholic traditions.”

Puglisi's thesis will be part of a virtual gallery for BFA Art & Design students beginning May 1, 2020.

Read more on Puglisi's thesis project at Rutgers Today

Photo: Nick Romanenko/Rutgers University