top of page

The Rom Madonnas

The Rom Madonnas is a series of portraits of Romany women and children that were completed in Rome, Italy between 2004-2006.  In contemplation of Michelagelo's Pietà, which means both piety and pity, the portraits acknowledge the everyday presence of gypsy women and children who work begging or performing in the streets. 

In making the portraits I discover the depth of hatred, from non-Romany people, that is angled toward these women and children, who work fulfilling familial and cultural roles. On many occasions, I sat unbearably perturbed as dinner conversations turned to the most vile of jokes at their expense. I've seen them physically assaulted and verbally abused in the public and witnessed how unreachable the demands of assimilation were when it came to Romany people.  Having worked in Roman public schools teaching English, I witness the complete rejection of the few Romany children that attended classes, committed by both the other students and the staff and it was painful to witness the social isolation of these children in those settings. 

This series allows the viewer to sit face to face with these women and consider their own beliefs, and perhaps, reflect on the human condition in consideration of piety and pity.  

Each of the paintings is oil on birch panel and took, at times, months to complete.  I was particularly inspired by the fashion of these women, who, through the appearance of poverty, presented themselves with notable street-style. 

My essay about these paintings was published in the December issue of the English language magazine Wanted in Rome, which was available at newsstands and aimed at ex-patriot and foreign visitors.  The painting titled Maria was printed on the cover of that issue.

bottom of page