Why This Matters: Nicholas Napoletano received a Cultural Vision Grant from ASC to paint a mural that serves as a visual beacon along the North Tryon Corridor.
By Bernie Petit
Creating a massive mural along the North Tryon Corridor has allowed artist Nicholas Napoletano to reflect on his short time in Charlotte.
Many of his thoughts have centered on his second year here, which coincided with the passage of North Carolina House Bill 2, the uprising after Keith Lamont Scott’s death and marches for women’s rights and immigration reform.
Those issues presented the need for more creative expression in Charlotte that allows us “to envision our future, what we hope for and what we strive for,” Napoletano said.
His contribution is a stunning work featuring the faces of seven real women from the Charlotte area representing a racially-diverse, LGBTQ-inclusive community. When complete – Napoletano expects to be finished by mid-April – the mural will nearly fill a 140 feet long by 17 feet tall wall that fronts West 11th Street on the side of Aerial CLT, located next to McColl Center for Art + Innovation.
“A marker of successful public art in my eyes is work that functions as a mirror, identifying a truth about the world we live in while paving the way for the future we want to create,” he said. “In this way art can help catalyze and accelerate the change and growth we want to see happen.”
The mural is the result of the painter’s collaboration with Aerial CTL, which provided the space, and Time Out Youth, which connected him to some of the faces found in the artwork. It is supported by an ASC Cultural Vision Grant, which funds cultural programming that builds community or demonstrates relevant cultural expression.
Napoletano first spotted the wall that will display one of his largest works to date shortly after moving to the city from New York.
“I remember seeing it from the McColl Center and realizing it was a prime candidate to begin bridging the gap between uptown and north end,” he said. “As the North Tryon Corridor continues to evolve, it’s important that the public views the expanding neighborhood in a positive way.
“The hope is that the mural will encourage people to experience more of the art that this city has to offer.”
Because of the wall’s prominent location just off an I-277 exit, numerous motorists will see Napoletano’s work as they roll off the interstate. Many have beeped their horns in appreciation or stopped to congratulate him on his mural as he’s painted it.
As the North Tryon Corridor continues to transition, the mural will continue to draw interest.
“It’s going to activate the space and cause people to think more highly of the space,” he said. “It’s bridging that gap. That’s ultimately what art has the capacity to do.”