Toni-Lee Sangastiano is a painter who currently lives and works in Burlington, Vermont. While taking her B.A. in Art at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey, Sangastiano's interest in sideshow and subcultures began and was nourished at Fairleigh Dickinson University.
Sangastiano's passion for old master techniques began at Montclair University where she received her M.F.A. Sangastiano continues her studies in old master techniques at the Angel Academy of Art in Florence, Italy and is currently the Art Coordinator and an Associate Professor of Art & Graphic Design Digital Media at Champlain College.
In 1997, Sangastiano's first sideshow banner paintings were displayed and flown at Coney Island's Sideshows By The Seashore and the Coney Island Museum. Sangastiano's work can be found in numerous private and public collections.
Sangastiano is known for realistic portraits of sideshow performers and carnival landscapes. Recent exhibitions include Supersize: is bigger better?, Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center, Maryland, Wide Open 2, Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition (BWAC), New York, the Fleming Museum's Under the Big Top: The Fine Art of the Circus in America, Vermont, a commissioned outdoor bannerline installation for the Shelburne Museum's Circus Day in America, Vermont and the Tate Modern, London.
I have always been drawn to outsiders and oddities as far back as I could remember. In my own life, I often remembered feeling like an outsider too. Difference sparked my curiosity and eventually led me to my interest in sideshows and subcultures. The sideshow itself can be a metaphor for life representing the contradictions in our society, simultaneously inciting our voyeuristic desires and providing a lens for us to question our constructed realities created by society. Both the exaggerated grandeur of the sideshow banner and the old master style portraits of performers that I create represent the dualities between illusion and reality and the beautiful versus the grotesque. I use technology and digital media, drawing and painting to create my work. I am deeply attracted to the ostentatious colors, lighting, textures and fantastical performances that I see both on and off the stage. In the grit and grime of the sideshow, I find the sublime.