Molfettese people, affectionately known as “Molfies,” migrated in waves to my hometown of Hoboken, NJ from Southern Italy in the early 1900s to escape a depressed economy and impending war. They settled close to New York for easy access to jobs in factories and shipyards and soon after, began to replicate their former daily lives by infusing their new homes and communities with the traditions and cultural folkways they left behind.
Now, 100 years after their initial descent on Ellis Island, the Molfettese population has evolved. Elders who carried and shared their first-hand Italian experiences have passed away and their grandchildren's full assimilation to the American culture has resulted in a generational shift that threatens the preservation of the original Molfie traditions. As a descendant of the Molfettese, I have experienced first-hand how challenging it is to uphold the traditions that my late grandmother so lovingly honored throughout my childhood.
This project celebrates the ongoing traditions of the Molfettese people who came to know Hoboken as a source of comfort and a place to call home. Although their initial move was a migration due to hardships, their thriftiness, adaptability, and loyalty to home helped them create an environment that allowed for their traditions to continue to be relevant in society today. To honor the timelessness of these traditions, this project is shot monochromatically. My hope is that in a time of gentrification and generational shifts, this project sparks a deeper appreciation of cultural differences and traditions as a whole.