Jana Napoli’s (American, b. 1946) career began through her study of painting and mixed media. She established herself as a professional artist in the 1970s with painting residencies and exhibits in Guatemala City, Paris, and London. Returning home in the early 1980s, Ms. Napoli opened her own gallery and Bed & Breakfast, joining an urban redevelopment movement that spawned what is now known as the New Orleans Arts District.

In 1988, she opened the doors of her own studio to the commercial art students of the neighboring vocational high school and founded YA/YA. YA/YA (Young Aspirations/Young Artists) is a non-profit arts and social service organization, whose mission is to empower creative young people to become successful adults. YA/YA does this by providing educational experiences in the arts and entrepreneurship to New Orleans-area youth, and by fostering and supporting their ambitions.

In the years 1988-2000, Jana stepped back from her own artwork and turned her creative energy to YA/YA, serving as the full-time art director.  Now in its 29th year of operation, YA/YA has gained national and international acclaim and is looked to as a model in youth development. In 2011 Napoli founded the Ana & Adeline Foundation which offers grants and professional development opportunities to the extensive YAYA community – the young people who are currently active in YAYA programs as well as the alumni who now live across the nation.

Post Katrina, Jana Napoli began the ongoing art installation called Floodwall, composed of over 700 drawers salvaged from the streets of New Orleans in the aftermath of the 2005 devastation. Floodwall was an attempt to give voice to the silence of a city in ruin and a people in Diaspora. First exhibited at Ground Zero in 2007, the installation traveled extensively, and then returned home to New Orleans for December 3rd of 2011 to be cremated on the banks of the Mississippi River for the City of New Orleans.

The community project, DrawerSpeaks, which worked with young people, continues to travel the world.


The documentary about Floodwall, Floating on Fire, premiered at the New Orleans Film Festival in 2015.



1971      Institute San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

1969     Bella Artes de San Fernando, Madrid                          

1968     Loretta Heights College (Regis University), Denver      


(Select) Solo n Curated Exhibits

2011   The Burning of Floodwall at Algiers Point, New Orleans, LA

2010   On Board of the Kurier Ship, Berlin, Germany

2010   Wroclaw National Museum, Wroclaw, Poland

2009   Previously On Piety - Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans, LA

2009   German Emigration Center, Bremerhaven, Germany

2009   On Piety - Prospect 1 Biennial, New Orleans, LA

2009   Clifton Cultural Arts Center, Cincinnati, OH

2008   Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, TX

2007   Louisiana State Museum, Baton Rouge, LA

2007   World Financial Center, New York, NY

1988   628 Gallery, New Orleans, LA

1987    628 Gallery, New Orleans, LA

1982    Masur Museum, Monroe, LA

1979    Units Gallery, New Orleans, LA

1978    Ross Thiele & Sons Gallery, La Jolla, CA

1975    World Trade Center, New Orleans, LA

1975    Ahyers Gallery, London

1974    Upper St. Gallery, London

1973    Maison de L'Amerique, Latine, Paris

1973    Cassino de Caubourg, Deauville, France

1972    Gallery de Arquetectos, Mexico City, Mexico 1971    Federal Gallery, Guatemala City, Guatemala

1970    Napoleon Gallery, New Orleans, LA

1968    Mini Gallery, Denver, CO



(Select) Group Exhibits


2013    New Orleans Museum of Art

2010    Under-Standing Water and Before (During) After: LA Photographers Respond to Katrina, Houston, TX

2004   George Schmidt Gallery, New Orleans

1992    New Orleans Museum of Art

1992    Downtown Gallery, New Orleans

1989    Cork Gallery, Lincoln Center, New York

1989    Lutten, Clarey and Stem, New York

1988    Atelier Napoli, New Orleans

1987    Atelier Napoli, New Orleans

1986    Duplantier Gallery, New Orleans

1973    Salon de Paris Sud, Paris

1971     Gallery Itati, Mexico City

1970    State Gallery of Louisiana, Baton Rouge

1970    Downtown Gallery, New Orleans



(Select) Private Collections

Faulkner House, New Orleans, LA

Herve Odermatt, Paris

Miguel Angel Asturias, Paris

Captain Tim Rogers, Dublin

Matilda Grey Stream, New Orleans, LA

Masur Museum, Monroe, LA

American Medical Association, Washington, D.C.

Dianne Von Furstenberg, New York

(select Private Collections)

Marguerite Espinosa, Contesa de Mansigny, Mexico City

International House, New Orleans, LA

Masur Museum, Monroe, LA



(Select) Reviews

Visit www.floodwall.org for recent reviews

San Diego Union, March 27, 1978

Times-Picayune, March 31, 1976, Diane Sustendal, "An Artist and Her Subjects' Times-Picayune, March 27, 1975, George Jordan

London Weekly Diary, July 21, 1974 London Arts Review, June 1974

Catalogue Paris, Fourteenth Salon International, 1973 Paris Normandie, August 20, 1973

Sociales, February 10, 1972

El Sol de Mexico, February 10, 1972, p. 3

Novedade, February 10, 1972, Centerfold

El Imparcial, Guatemala City, Guatemala, Monday, January 4, 1971



(Select) Curated Exhibits -- YA/YA exhibits curated by Jana Napoli

1995   Art- arium 15, Young DeungPo-Gu - Seoul Convention Center, Seoul, Korea

1994   “Drapes and Shapes” - 628 Gallery, New Orleans, LA

1994   “YAYA Mixes it Up” - Delgado Gallery, New Orleans, LA

1993   Inauguration Documentary Exhibit - Spectrum Gallery, San Francisco, CA

1993   “YA/YA - Sit Down in Tokyo” - Aki-Ex Gallery, Tokyo, Japan

1993   “YA/YA at the Beach” - University of West Florida, Pensacola, FL

1993   “Hello, Tokyo, We Are YA/YA” - Seibu Department Store Gallery, Japan

1992   “YA/YA Speaks” - Architects and Designers Building, New York

1992   “YA/YA Works on Cloth” - 628 Gallery, New Orleans, LA

1992   International Contemporary Furniture Fair - Javits Center, New York

1992   “Awt’ N Clawt” - 628 Gallery, New Orleans, LA

1991   “YA/YA Back from Europe”  - 628 Gallery, New Orleans, LA

1991   Jean Francois Guyot Gallery - Paris, France

1991   “YA/YA on the Road” - Eaton Gallery, Memphis, TN

1991   Group show - Gallery of Functional Art, Santa Monica, CA

1990   Piero Della Francesca Memorial Chair Exhibition -  628 Gallery, New Orleans, LA

1990   YA/YA Group Show -  Claiborne Gallery, New York

1990   Piero Della Francesca Foundation and YA/YA - Sansepolcro Civic Museum

1990   International Chair Design Exhibition  -  Udine, Italy

1989   Painted chairs -  New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival

1989   “Storytelling Chifforobes” - Cork Gallery, Lincoln Center, NY

1988   Norman Therrien and Hajimu Ito - 628 Gallery, New Orleans, LA


Design Clients -- contracts awarded to YA/YA under Jana Napoli’s creative direction


1996    New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Congo Square poster

1995    United States Department of Agriculture (Washington, DC): Nutrition Education poster

1995    United Nations (New York): 50thAnniversary Celebration, 582 slipcovers for the General Assembly Hall delegate chairs

1994    Swatch, Ltd. (Switzerland): a collection of three watches

19__Hammachacher Schlemmer, limited edition painted chair collection

19__     Alessi, limited edition chair collection



2002 Oprah Winfrey’s “Use Your Life Award” (awarded to Jana Napoli with a grant for YA/YA)

 1999 President’s Committee on Arts and Humanities “Coming Up Taller Award (presented to YA/YA with $10,000 grant)

 1991 Mayor’s Arts Award - presented by the Arts Council of New Orleans to YA/YA

 1988 Junior Merit Award, DaIlas Women’s Caucus for Art (presented to Jana Napoli)

Professional Affiliations

2004 - 2006  YA/YA, Advisory Council, Honorary Chair

2006 Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, Katrina Artist Fund, Advisory Board Member


Print Media Reviews for YA/YA Inc.


San Franciso Examiner, June 2, 1993, p.3

Kenchiku Chiski (Japan) June 1993. p. 37

Friday, (Tokyo) March 12,1993, p.46

Popeye, (Tokyo) February 24, 1993 p.9

Arts Quarterly, Winter 1993, p.10-12

Art News, May 1992, p.148

Avant Grade, (Holland) May 1992, p.10

Provencale Journal, July 21, 1991, p.5

Ambient, March 3,1991.p.10

Casa Vogue, December 1990, p. 149

The Face, September 1990, p. 17

British Vogue, August 1990, p. 54-55

World of Interiors, July/August, 1990, p.14

Abitare, January 1989 Cove & p. 116-119

Vogue Decoration, French & International Editions, October/November 1989, p. 132-135

Metropolis, July/August 1989, p.29

Art Business News, June 1989, p.1

The New York Magazine, April 10, 1989, p.41




The Majesty of the French Quarter, by Kerri McCaffety, Pelican Publishing, 2,000  pages

YA/YA: Young New Orleans Artists and Their Storytelling Chairs (and How to YA/YA in Your Neighborhood), by Claudia Barker, Louisiana State University Press, 1996

New Orleans: Elegance and Decadence, narrative by Randolph Delehanty, Photographs by Richard Sexton, San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1993, pages


Television Features:

2004    NBC’s “Today” show, follow-up story “Inner-City Threads”

2003    NBC’s “Today” show, “Lend a Hand” program, recipient of $50,000 worth of goods

2002    The Oprah Winfrey Show

OTHER TV      Sesame Street


Language Skills:

 fluent in Spanish and French; proficient in Italian