Naomi Castillo & Alex Merritt

Naomi Castillo & Alex Merritt are Class of 2017 graduates from the New York Academy of Art’s two-year MFA program.

Naomi Castillo & Alex Merritt were each recipients of our Vasari Classic Artists’ Oil Colors Award at their commencement on May 18, 2017, and their work was shown in the Class of 2017 Thesis Exhibition from May 16-27, at the New York Academy of Art, New York, NY.

We wanted to share their exceptional work and accomplishments to date.


Naomi Renee Castillo

 Naomi Castillo & Alex Merritt

“My paintings are about weight, in celebration of the blue-collar work I did as a teenager in the salvage industry with my father. The division in our society between blue-collar and white-collar classes weighs heavily on me.

The paintings of chains are intended to have symbolic meaning that is different for each viewer. True suffering in life, to me, is failing to realize that you can remove your own mental chains because their weight and heaviness is given by your own thoughts. In reality, around your life experiences are completely made-up stories created by one’s own overthinking anxious mind, stories that you live into. We live into stories about ourselves created when we were children, and teens, or young adults, when we didn’t know up from down. I am too poor, too fat, too short, too tall, to dumb, too weak, the list goes on and on. I spend endless hours painting, greedily desiring the empowering sensation I get when my painting starts expressing the true weight of my own mental chains.”


Naomi Castillo & Alex Merritt

Chains, 2017, oil on canvas, 50 x 31, shown in Thesis Exhibition


Naomi Castillo & Alex Merritt

Strong Hands, oil on canvas


Visit Naomi’s website to view more of her work at:

Or follow her on instagram at: naominyc



William Alexander Merritt

 Naomi Castillo & Alex Merritt

Photo Credit; Lisa Nicchi


“Alex paints with a ferocity that presents his subject matter in a way that is honest and unsettling. Both his paint application and the emotions created by these images are direct. Vivid color and active compositions speak to tempestuous memories and violent reckonings. These paintings invite the viewer to a place that has the ordered chaos of a Baroque ceiling. Bold brushstrokes tear through delicately painted passages, producing intricately layered tumultuous surfaces. These paintings draw on a broad range of influences from old masters like Titian, Rubens, and Goya to modern masters like Willem de Kooning, Francis Bacon, and Joan Mitchell. He is not just throwing around paint or making literal illustrations of specific events. He strategically involves you in an honest emotional struggle.”     – Luke Ivy Price

Alex was born in Washington, DC. He now lives and works in the New York City area and maintains a studio at Mana Contemporary.


Naomi Castillo & Alex Merritt

Sloe Gin, oil on linen, 96 x 120


Naomi Castillo & Alex Merritt

Leviathan, oil on linen, 26 x 41


Naomi Castillo & Alex Merritt

Look What They’re Accomplishing, oil on linen, 80 x 100


Visit Alex’s website to view more of his work at:

Or follow him on instagram at: alexmerritt81


New York Academy of Art

Founded in 1982 by artists, scholars and patrons of the arts, including Andy Warhol, the New York Academy of Art is a not-for-profit education and cultural institution, which combines intensive technical training in drawing, painting and sculpture with active critical discourse. Academy students are taught traditional methods and techniques and encouraged to use these skills to make vital contemporary art. Through major exhibitions, a lively speaker series, and an ambitious educational program, the Academy serves as a creative and intellectual center for all artists dedicated to highly skilled, conceptually aware figurative and representational art.

To learn more visit the New York Academy of Art’s website at:



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