Sofia Rosa Bianchi


You can find 34-year old Amanda Pappalardo on any given business day ticking off to-do’s in her Brooklyn office, where she holds an impressive role as an attorney for the Office of General Counsel at the New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications.   Whether it’s drafting non-disclosure agreements, negotiating pre-litigation settlements, or investigating Equal Employment Opportunity complaints, her days are spent performing important tasks that are full of challenges and purpose.

But on Monday nights, Pappalardo slips out of her Brooklyn office and does her customary costume change into a paint-splattered, front-facing superwoman cape.  Trading in her chic blazer for an artist’s smock, she makes her way over to 215 West 57th Street.  It is here, the Art Students League, where Pappalardo does the city yet another great justice, by adding items to a portfolio to be represented at her next art show.

“I’ve known that art is essential to me for a long time,” Pappalardo explains to me as we meet for coffee in November.  “I recall a moment when I realized how much I enjoyed creating beautiful images - In 5th grade I sketched a well-shaded seal on a sheet of loose-leaf paper, using an image in an encyclopedia for reference.”

Pappalardo explains that it wasn’t until recently, that she made the bold decision to follow her inner voice-to make art a career.  

“The moment I decided to stop ignoring it is encapsulated in period of time when I became involved in the Art Students League,” Pappalardo recalls.  “Inspiration abounds when surrounded by art in process.  Since I started painting at the League, I’ve created paintings at a rate I never did before.  I can’t get the paint on the canvas fast enough before I have an idea of something else I want to try.”

Pappalardo recently had her premiering show at Zavo restaurant on 3rd Avenue and 60th Street, which ran from October 30th to December 3rd. The turnout of opening night was exceptional, as Pappalardo's paintings proved to be as well. Vibrant colors and intriguing compositions told the story of the artist's journey. 

Amanda Pappalardo was born in Staten Island, New York to an American mother and Italian father.  “I took to drawing and painting as a child,” Pappalardo explains, “however my father’s entrepreneurial success defined top priorities during much of my childhood.”  As a result, Pappalardo found herself studying business and accounting at Fordham University.  “I kept art in my life by taking up minor studies in Visual Arts, and by taking an executive role with Fordham’s Society of Visual Arts,” Amanda explains.  With her father’s encouragement, Pappalardo went on to pursue law at St. John’s University.


Pappalardo describes her process as "pushing the boundaries of the canvas and the paint, but also myself."


As her studies intensified and her career in law took off, Pappalardo’s artwork dwindled to almost nothing.  There is a suppressed pain that is evident to me in Pappalardo’s facial expression, as she re-visits these feelings, not long surpassed.  “After almost ten years of focusing on rules and law, and facing various personal challenges, I became determined to define rules for myself,” Pappalardo explains.  There is a glisten in her eyes as she tells of this imperative turning point.  Pappalardo speaks about how she consequently enrolled in evening classes at the Art Students League.  Inspired by the League’s student body, history, and impact, it was there where this promising artist rediscovered and reclaimed the voice she she once knew.  Pappalardo continues to paint in a studio in Staten Island, and is an active member of the League.

I am moved when Pappalardo describes her process as “pushing the boundaries of the canvas and paint, but also myself.”  An American woman raised in a predominately Italian-American culture, the youngest child and only daughter of her parents, her recent paintings demonstrate the artist’s conflict with herself in the context of societal expectations.  Employing explosive purples, chartreuses, and vibrant coral-reds, Pappalardo’s strokes, splatters, and gestural markings are reminiscent of Jackson Pollock’s abstract expressionism and Hans Hoffman’s expressive paintings.  Her paintings convey an almost adolescent angst, bearing markings that convey pain and frustration, while the colors and forms evoke "celebratory hope" at the prospect of exploration beyond the boundaries of conventional painting.  "The wet-like appearance of some of the strokes," Pappalardo explains to me, "depict a freshness that is unfinished or still in process"- as the artist demonstrates that this conflict is yet to be resolved.

But as for all superwomen, while the battles are inevitable, I do not doubt that Pappalardo will continue to swiftly conquer them; with the same grace that is represented in her honest, resplendent paintings.  Something in Pappalardo’s diligent demeanor and irrevocable eloquence is a promise to me that this is only the beginning of beautiful things to come, from this incredibly inspiring artist-on-the-rise.


Sofia Bianchi is currently serving as Managing Editor at bSmartguide as well as pursuing a bachelor’s degree at Fordham University.  She is a current member of the Female Founders Fund Fellowship program as well as dancing in NYC for the Elizabeth White Creative.  In the future, Sofia hopes to find success by pursuing the many facets of creativity.  Her many interests include writing novels, poetry, the fine and performing arts, choreography, and app-development.  


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