The next time you drive down Clanton Road, you’ll see the unmistakable work of painter, muralist and designer Nick Napoletano.
Like most of his work, Napoletano wants his installations to function as a mirror, identifying a truth about the community, while paving the way for positive change. Community growth and dialogue are a main component of his art.
“Being an artist is bucking the norm,” Napoletano said. “I think, as children, it’s incredibly important that we are allowed to dream and see ourselves with the infinite potential we each possess.”
Napoletano was commissioned by Beacon Partners to make the piece about whatever he wanted.
“The advertising world for a long time in America has been biased,” Napolentano said.
Napoletano reached out to Bae Hart, owner of The Bae Hive, an all-inclusive photography agency.
“The representation of Black children hasn’t been positive,” Hart said. “For a child to look up and see someone that looks like them tells a child that they have endless opportunities, and that they are part of this community.”
You can feel the empowerment of Napoletano’s newest display that encourages with sentences like, “May all your vibes say, ‘I got this’, ‘You are enough’ and ‘Lead with an open heart.’”
While quotes can inspire, it’s the illustration of two Black kids that catch the eye. Those kids are Zahra and Beckham, child models for The Bae Hive. Hart calls them her “BAEbies.”
Studies show that media images have a distinct impact on perceptions of Black people and culture.
“Media creates definitions about race and plays a critical role in shaping the way we understand race and ethnicity as part of our personality, our past, our social institutions and the way we live day to day,” said Rwenshaun Miller, a licensed clinical mental health counselor.
Hart suggests that the community must confront the question of why Black images are underrepresented and framed in negative ways.
“To be able to see yourself as a Black child, larger than life in a positive manner is what The Bae Hive is all about,” Hart said.
Napoletano’s work creates a fuller and more accurate portrayal in his productions and will likely continue to work to embed positive representation in the Black community.
“Always keep your head held high,” Hart said. “You may see yourself.”
The mural is located at 3500 Dewitt in Charlotte.
If you have an inspiring story to share, email Kevin Campbell, WSOC-TV/WAXN-TV/Telemundo Charlotte public affairs manager, at Kevin.Campbell@wsoctv.com.