Shannon Barker of BellaSorella Couture is one of my favorite artists, and I always get a thrill out of working with her. We met a few years ago through Etsy and have struck up a great web friendship ever since, all the while encouraging each other as we have both worked hard to build our businesses while raising our kiddos at the same time. It is so fulfilling to find women like this. One of these days, we WILL meet in person.
A few months back, Shannon approached me with a vision of hers that had been brewing – it revolved around some pieces she wanted to create in honor of her great-grandmother, Sabina, and her story and journey from Italy to America. We were going for a very “Walk in the Clouds” feel. With Shannon’s permission, I am sharing an excerpt below that she sent me from Sabina’s story so I could have a vision for the shoot. I love her story.
She came to the states on a boat with 2 little boys. Her husband, my great-grandfather Enrico, was already in Chicago at the time of her arrival. During the trip, the boat began to sink so they asked everyone to throw suitcases overboard to help save the boat from sinking. Many of her heirloom pieces and mementos from home are now resting in the sea. Lost as an imprint in time I guess you could say. She arrived at Ellis Island by herself with two little boys. She did not speak a word of English. She navigated to Chicago with the boys by herself. What courage!!!
She was a mother of 7 and they resided in southern Illinois. They lived on a farm their entire life and were very hard working. It was the only “job” they could hold as they never learned to “speak” English. There was never a need to do so in their minds. Faith was important as it bonded them to memories of the homeland, their family, and each other. They never called Italy, “Italy” but referenced it as the homeland. Sabina never ever saw her family again, her homeland, her brothers or sisters or her parents.
We aimed to capture a variety of emotions – a longing for home, a questioning of this new land where she spoke no English and was uncertain of everything, a feeling of being lost but yet hidden in your core, strength and courage, hope, determination, becoming a part of the USA but staying true to her heritage, hope for a better life for her children, persistence as she knew the struggles/challenges would be worth it in the long run and freedom.
What a story. What a life. Thank you Shannon for this amazing opportunity!