Paul Christopher Conticelli – Transforming Pain Into Art 

Paul Christopher Conticelli is an artist and a poet who also has a bachelor’s degree in finance, and a master’s in construction management from Columbia University. Even though those things sound unrelated – they aren’t.  

Conticelli has 15 years of experience working in construction – including project coordinator, estimator, and junior project manager – and he says, I get inspiration for my artwork from my construction work.” He adds: “Even when I drive under or over a bridge, I look at the lines and angles, and I dissect every aspect of that structure and I see that as brush strokes.” 

Conticelli’s work has been featured at some of the world’s most prestigious venues, including the Chelsea ArtWalk in Manhattan, the Brussels Cube Art Fair, “DREAMS a LA LAND” in Los Angeles, Miami Art Basel Scope Show – and it’s also been shown right here in our backyard. His rendition of Jesus Christ and the Stations of the Cross is a permanent installment at the Clarkstown Reformed Church in West Nyack. “Cross to Bear” is part of that series.  

Conticelli, who divides his time between Stony Point and Manhattan, says there’s deep meaning in those works: “If Jesus died for mankind, he carried the cross for mankind, I wanted these pieces to represent all of mankind no matter the color of their skin, so everyone can all relate, even an atheist. … I am about inclusivity, that has always been my mission in life, and I have sought to do that artistically and creatively. … with this particular collection.” He adds, “If you are born, you are going to die, and you have a cross to bear that is personal to you and only you, and no one else will ever know your burden.” 

Conticelli’s artwork is deeply personal, and he’s always felt connected to it. “I was born an artist, and I started creating for as long as I can remember. Since I was 3 or 4, I’ve had that piece active.” He continues: “When I paint, I am seeing myself in the mirror, and sometimes it’s scary and I am taken aback, and I haven’t always shared it as it’s very personal and sacred. … but there was always this light inside of me that I have always had. I channeled that through my art and poetry.” 

Loss and trauma have also helped to shape his art. Conticelli’s piece “Brother” was inspired by the loss of his brother Matthew, who died in a motorcycle accident in Queens in 2002. He was only 17, and Paul was just 15 at the time. He says, “Matthew lived his life with no fear since he was a child, but I was scared of my own shadow. I didn’t trust people, but I trusted Matthew.” Conticelli says losing his brother “made me understand life and death in a different way. I think of Matt every time I paint. I challenge myself through the memory of my brother and that broke the glass shell that I had. With Matt passing, I started to create more abstract and less realism, and tap into my deeper emotions. … (it gave me) another layer of dimension and sensibilities.” 

Then, when Conticelli was 19, he was critically injured after getting hit by a drunk driver in Mexico while out walking. He flatlined twice and was in a medically induced coma for three weeks. Then he had to do intensive therapy to relearn how to do even the most basic things – including walking and using a fork. But his art helped him heal. “In a moment of darkness and silence, a very unfamiliar and scary space, I was able to draw and not talk about it. I didn’t want to talk about it, but I wanted to express it anyway.” The accident also provided him with a whole new perspective “It gave me another opportunity to live my life, and I decided to live it fearlessly and abundantly.” 

His art also enables him to express his feelings about himself, and other people. His work called “Grillz” shows lips and teeth – but it’s about so much more. “I love to smile, and whether you are smiling or seeing someone else smile, it’s positive. But our lips and our voice can also be a powerful weapon for everybody, no matter what their smile looks like. … don’t use the power of your weapon of your mouth in a negative sense.” He adds, it’s also about “getting to that golden place, getting that grit out of you and finding your way and helping others see their way to the golden city – a place of enlightenment and brotherhood or sisterhood.” 

Conticelli says he’s also working to help others on their artistic path, “I’m in discussions with different artists to help represent them and their artwork and assist them and give them a platform for their creative expression. I am excited to bring that to the world soon.”  

And wherever his journey takes him, Matt will always be a part of it. “I feel my brother’s spirit encouraging me and taking me to the next level.” 

1 Comment

  1. This is a very inspiring, motivating and captivating story of strength, resilience and faith. I believe if Paul Christopher can overcome all of these obstacles due to his faith in God, so can I. Thank you Mr. Conticelli for sharing your riveting story.

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About the Author: Larry Epstein