Connaughton Gallery features first McIntire graduate and spotlights local artist – The Cavalier Daily
The walls of the McIntire School of Commerce house many pieces by various talented artists, highlighting their model of developing creative and well-rounded students. No place is more evident of the harmony of business and art at the University than The Connaughton Gallery, located on the third floor of Robertson Hall. Named after alumni John P. and Stephanie F. Connaughton, the gallery features artists year-round.
Each season, a new artist duo is presented in the exhibition. This season, the McIntire Art Committee has chosen to exhibit works by Nick Alexander, art therapist and children’s counselor, as well as Susie Juárez Rodriguez, alumnus of McIntire’s class of 2021.
A specialty of Alexander is landscape painting, created in oil on canvas. He draws inspiration from his own backyard in Lexington, Virginia, to captivating travel sites in Alaska. His works range in size from 8 inches by 12 inches to 36 inches by 60 inches – a totally immersive experience in which viewers will get lost in mesmerizing colors.
Juárez’s works are a reflection of his Mexican roots and his experimentation with colorful and eye-catching geometric figures. More importantly, however, her growth as an artist is featured, as she included pieces from the age of 13 – “Prismatic Aureoles”, “Rising Lustrous Convulsion” and “Cadmium Tidalwave” – to his most recent works.
She uses a variety of mediums, such as pencil, gouache, ink and acrylic. Each painting, some more visible than others, incorporates geometry in one form or another. Juárez categorizes his work as “geometric abstraction”.
February 10 marked the exhibition’s opening reception, when students and their families enjoyed impressive artwork, food and the opportunity to converse with the artists. Remarkably, the showcase made history as Juárez was the first McIntire graduate to feature in the gallery.
“Even though I didn’t choose art as a career, it’s really special for me to have been able to choose the path of business and not have to give up a passion that was very clear to me,” Juárez said. . “And being represented in the place that I loved – I love McIntire. It was a very special moment and I’m still excited to be a first.
Although both artists create in their spare time, they have seen the vast benefits of using their passion in the workplace. As a global business card analyst for Bank of America, Juárez personally found his artistic background a great advantage in articulating stories while developing promotional materials. AT Horizon Project, Alexander is the Coordinator of Children’s Services. He blends therapy and artistic expression to engage survivors of domestic and sexual violence in times when verbal communication is not preferred or appropriate.
Artists have often used their work as a form of expression, adding images to signify their emotions and important moments. A very important place for Juárez is his birthplace – Monterrey, Mexico. She shows it through a trilogy of pencil and ink paintings. Each work has the continuing theme of black and white tones with beautiful realistic sketched hands. The city’s national monuments – Cerro de la Silla, las Mitras and Chipinque – are featured in the background while the foreground features personal and relevant themes of marriage, cultural preservation and immigration.
“These are images that I think are very deeply embedded in my mind when I think of Monterrey…I think of the mountains,” Juárez said. “These pieces are very moving as I reflect on my Mexican identity and how it has affected me as a person.”
Although each artist’s two works are extremely different, there are no designated rules when pursuing art in the gallery. Each artist has experimented over the years, finding strengths and weaknesses to develop their own style. Additionally, the works in the gallery convey the message that perfection is not as imperative to success as understanding that each individual has something to offer.
“I learned from my time at U.Va. and my time at McIntire is not to worry about being perfect in other people’s eyes. And being just good enough for me in my strengths, and not trying to ‘be something I’m not,’ Juárez said.
The exhibit will be on display until March 4. Art lovers can find artist statements from Alexander and Juárez and how to contact them if they wish to purchase any of these works of art.