Matthew Napoli portrait photo by Piper Bangs
MFA 2024 Artists MFA 2024 Artists: Matthew Napoli
Matthew Napoli

UMass Dartmouth 2024 MFA Thesis Exhibition

About Matthew Napoli

Matthew Napoli is an artist based in Providence, RI working in painting and natural materials including live plants. After beginning his training at San Jacinto College in his native Houston, TX, he earned his bachelor’s degree from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), and shortly after completed a residency at the New York Academy of Art. Napoli has exhibited his work in cities including Houston, Baltimore, Dallas, and New York City. He was a finalist for the 2022 AXA Art Prize, and in 2023 was awarded a grant from the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation. As an art educator, he has taught and been a visiting speaker at UMass Dartmouth, MICA, SUNY Oneonta, University of Texas at Arlington, and the Newport Art Museum.


Experts name our place in natural history the Anthropocene, defining today’s earth as under the dominion of humans. Finding inspiration in a time characterized by environmental crises and a sense of p, my artwork appraises and poeticizes the difficult feelings of estrangement from creation.

Through the imperfection of painting, I process the imperfect shape of life today-- and the difficulty of constructing positive meaning in our disordered home. These paintings are premised on the insolvency of any philosophy which considers humans as distinct from, or superior to, nature.

We might be wise to consider other species and their success; ginkgo biloba trees have lived on earth for a thousand times longer than us. What have they done right to make it on earth for so long, and what have we done so wrong in a comparatively brief amount of time? How might humans more elegantly and sustainably position the place in natural history we so viciously asserted?