BY DAVID WILLARD
“In today’s climate in our country, which is sickened with the pollution of pollution, threatened with the prominence of AIDS, riddled with burgeoning racism, rife with growing huddles of the homeless, we need art, and we need art in all forms. We need all methods of art to be present, everywhere present, and all the time present.” Maya Angelou’s insight into the importance of art in our communities and lives as a whole is one that still rings true. It inspires, it gives hope, and fortunately it comes in many forms and media. One can walk into a gallery, step into a theater, or even walk down a community street and see dramatic murals on local buildings. These murals can celebrate life or even force us to look closer at ourselves. In a sense, they are conversations within the community.
Perhaps no one knows this best in Winston-Salem than Marianne DiNapoli-Mylet. An artist in the downtown scene for over 25 years, she has made her reputation as not only a seasoned painter, but also a talented muralist. In fact, DiNapoli-Mylet has created over 40 murals in her career.
“I consider myself a multi-media artist who has been engaged in the study of art, culture, and education for over 35 years. Since 1985, as Assistant Director and a lead artist in the Artistic Design Program (an anti-graffiti mural program) in Camden, New Jersey, I have focused on creating public art with communities as a means of celebrating history and heritage, commemorating life and instilling neighborhood pride. I love that public art is accessible to everyone and I have created over 40 murals with schools and communities throughout North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia and New Jersey. I painted my first mural in Winston-Salem in 1995 and created some of the first public art pieces in downtown Winston-Salem,” says DiNapoli-Mylet.
DiNapoli-Mylet has certainly made the most of her time in downtown Winston as she has succeeded in truly leaving her mark on the area. She has been an active member of the Winston-Salem arts community since moving here in 1989 from Camden, NJ. She also co-founded and managed Studios at 625 (1999- 2016) in the Downtown Art District and was awarded Regional Artist Fellowships in 1995 and 2014 from The Arts Council of WS/FC for her studio work focusing on musicians. She also founded and developed the POWAR! Program, a public art program in Winston-Salem with a focus on mentoring youth and building community bonds through public art projects. In this program, the group created seven murals in Winston-Salem.
When describing her art style, DiNapoli-Mylet makes it clear that it may be a bit “different.” “I guess my art is a little schizophrenic. My murals are fairly tame because they are usually commissioned and have to relate a story or event(s) but my studio work is more expressive, focusing on emotion and rhythm – primarily through music. I am fascinated by a spontaneous, raw moment in the performance. I attempt to capture that moment, allowing the viewer an insight into the soul of performance – hoping to entice the viewer to ‘feel’ the beat and ‘hear’ the music in my paintings. My goal is to capture the passion through rhythm, texture, color and line, to demonstrate the pulsing rhythms and raw emotions of a particular genre of music,” she concludes.
Marianne DiNapoli-Mylet has worked hard to not only make her mark, but also to make a difference in the community. Obviously, she has succeeded. Her work is on display in galleries in the area and on many buildings as well. And whether it be through community conversations with her murals, or “feeling” the music and passion in her paintings, she has challenged downtown Winston-Salem and its patrons to experience first-hand the power and passion community and art can bring to life.