BY SHALEEN DESTEFANO
The art of Marissa “Revery” Napoletano caught our eye several years ago at CRUSH Walls. Revery is defined as a state of dreamy meditation, a daydream, or visionary idea. Which is so fitting for her vast body of work. We had the chance to learn more about her journey as an artist.
I’ve had a passion for art as long as I can remember, and truthfully creative endeavors were one of the only things I had an aptitude for. From a young age I was always making in some way or other, fashioning wedding dresses out of newspaper, creating hands and feet out of wire and, of course, painting. I was lucky enough to grow up with my grandmother who owned a gallery in Cape Cod and painted beautiful watercolors herself. However, it wasn’t until high school that I explored the idea of turning passion into career.
I actually started out studying art therapy in Boston, aiming to marry my love of creation with an interest in psychology and helping others. While I enjoyed the profession on paper, I struggled to find an effective impact with my art, and wanted to improve my craft before using it in alternative ways. I went on to attend the Hartford Art School in CT, and learned from some of the most influential artists and teachers I’ve ever met. However, the most significant impacts on my art and life were found in Italy. I studied in Cortona, a small Tuscan town where I apprenticed with a master of egg tempera, an old method of painting that utilizes natural pigment and raw egg yolks. It’s difficult to describe the breadth of influence this time had on the way I create. I had the opportunity to grow in a place that embodied the root of both art and heritage. Suffice to say my artwork today is continually shaped by that experience.
My artist name, “Revery,” is a reference to the feelings that drive a lot of my work and hopefully embody the feelings it provokes as well. When I was younger, and first starting to paint, dreams played a large part in my life. Sleeping has always been difficult for me, but dreaming came easy. I would sleep at odd times, dreaming so vividly that I couldn’t tell the difference between imagination and reality. For a while I would try to lucid dream, to gain some semblance of control but I’ve since realized that the most captivating moments often happen when you leave the mind to blur the lines. Regardless of the themes I explore with each painting, they all maintain this feeling of a daydream, of an image that feels real but also like a little bit of fanciful musing.
Inspiration for each piece comes from themes that arise both personally and globally. I view each piece as an opportunity to digest various issues, learn, and spark connection. My current work focuses on growth, the struggle and beauty that comes from change.
You’ve illustrated books, painted murals, worked in more traditional spaces. Do you see yourself expanding in one specific area of work?
One of the joys I garnered from a background in illustration is the ability to express ideas and emotions in a variety of ways. I enjoy the option to plug in art wherever possible and wherever it is most effective for each project. My current avenues are mostly mural and oil work however I am open to any and all areas of creation.
It’s not a new revelation that women and non-binary individuals face incredible struggles in the art world, and really every world. A great deal of my work has dealt with my experiences with sexism, harassment, and systemic disadvantage. To go from creating in an environment of continued bedevilment to unconditional support was invaluable. Not only does it open your eyes to how many women and non-binary people are creating (and just don’t get recognition) but to have people that relate to you and build you up really changes your ability to create. I have never been able to paint in a space like that, and the strength I gleaned from those creators I can only hope to maintain going forward.
One of our favorite murals you’ve worked on was that of “Parallel Pandemics” – featuring Leslie Herod. Can you tell us more about this piece?
When you work on a project like the “Breathe” mural, the collaboration can be a balancing act of organizations, businesses, creatives, politicians and participants. This project proved a symbiosis between all of these, and I had the privilege of working with people who all had the same selfless goal: raise money for BLM and frontline workers, raise awareness, register people to vote and provoke action. Any project I get to work on that combines art with a tangible positive impact is like creating magic. Though it was a whirlwind to paint, completed in just a weekend, I am grateful that it continues to be a symbol of hope and change during one of humanity’s most challenging times.
I have an overwhelming respect for the other artists in Denver and the way they have changed the fabric of the culture here, it’s one of the main reasons I moved out. Though it’s difficult to chose just a few artists I admire, the list includes Casey Kawaguchi, Android Jones, Gemma Danielle, Jazz Holmes, and Danielle Seewalker.
Where can we find your work?
My work can be found in murals around Colorado and the east coast. I’m currently showing at Threyda Gallery and Sassabird Gallery, and, of course, you can find much more on my website! www.reveryart.com
What can we expect from you in the future?
I’m very much a “live in the now” person but in the future I aim to expand my work in many other countries, mediums, and avenues for creating positivity and connection. And as always, you can expect a healthy dose of dreaming.
Thank you so much for letting us take a peek into your process, Marissa. To learn more about her work, visit reveryart.com.