“No one ever leaves here how they came,” Lauren replied when I asked her about the theme of snakes throughout her collection.

“We all shed a layer or two.”

I had only just met her but I already knew I liked her.

lauren napolitano moonrise art show residencia gorila portrait

(Lauren Napolitano Portrait by Vishal Modha)

That seems to be a very common theme here, instantly connecting with incredibly talented and spirited individuals at Residencia Gorila. It happens a lot in Tulum, but like a carefully curated collection of art, Gorila is always full of instant friends.

residencia gorila tulum mexico artist residence

I was excited to be back at my favorite creative’s haven and happy to help with Lauren’s art exhibition, MOONRISE, on my last Friday night in town. Lauren had rushed feverishly to complete the collection, only getting the photography prints on Monday. She showed not only her talent, precision and commitment, but a focus I admire.

tulum art show moonrise residencia gorila

Ananda had done an incredible job all week setting up the exhibition on top of coordinating a residence full of new artists, the vegan kitchen and juice bar, as well as managing hotel guests and staff. Her skills blow me away, as well as Lauren’s, so it was a pleasure to lend whatever support I could to these powerful women.

Lauren Napolitano art show residencia gorila tulum mexico

Lauren Napolitano Residencia Gorila Moonrise Art Show  Tulum

When I asked Lauren what her favorite part of the experience has been, she told me it was the collaboration. She collaborated with Gorila residents with the photography, getting the prints, arranging a good work space, the event and even with me, on this article.

lauren napolitano sunru carter residencia gorila

(Lauren & Sunru, photo by Vishal Modha)

From the collaboration she learned a lot about acceptance. She described herself as an “alpha creative” but in the last few months she has learned the art of surrender. The art of accepting things the way they are and appreciating an object the way it is. She also spoke about accepting and appreciating other people’s styles, something I could really relate to recently.

lauren napolitano moonrise art show residencia gorila collaboration


(Resident Artists Hugo & Lauren, photo by Wendi La Fey)

Being an artist isn’t always easy and things don’t always happen in the creative flow, especially on a deadline in the frequently distracting environment.  Lauren seemed to handle it all with the grace and diligence of a true Virgo.

Lauren, Ananda and I spent the day setting up the event space, Batey’s Mojito Bar, paying attention to every detail, like the details of Lauren’s artwork. We scraped old tape off the wood and re-painted walls. After several trips to the hardware store we had everything mounted with precision and Lauren added the final touches of gold moons and stars to the wall.

tulum art residencia gorila lauren napolitano

Lauren Napolitano Residencia Gorila Moonrise Art Show  Tulum

I was surprised myself to see such a transformation of the space by that evening. Lauren’s work was so well presented and everyone was so in love with her art. We had several inquiries about purchasing before we had even finished displaying everything.

lauren napolitano tulum residencia gorila art show artist

residencia gorila artist residence art show lauren napolitanoLauren Napolitano Residencia Gorila Moonrise Art Show  Tulum IMG_2009

She typically uses old portraits, often discovered in basements or thrift stores, giving them new life and restoring them with her own unique style. However, this collection was done especially for the Gorilas and people she met during her time in Tulum.

lauren napolitano moonrise art show residencia gorila

lauren napolitano tulum residencia gorila art show artist

lauren napolitano tulum residencia gorila art show artist

I think everyone agrees that this is their favorite.

tulum residencia gorila lauren napolitano art show moonrise


(Usinsh, the Residencia Gorila pup)

Like her consistent theme of moon phases, we are constantly changing, evolving and entering new phases of our life. While we are sad to see Lauren’s residency at Gorila come to a close, we are excited for her new chapter in San Francisco, curating a learning center and event space as an art installation.

I have no doubt that with her collaboration skills, dedication and attention to detail, it will be an incredible creation.

To follow Lauren’s art and journey visit

Lauren Napolitano Residencia Gorila Moonrise Art Show  Tulum


(With Lauren and my new hand painted bottle I bought from her show)

With Love and Light,

-Lindsay Hawley