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Connaughton Gallery features first McIntire graduate, highlights local artist

McIntire exhibit encourages student creativity and applauds alumni accomplishments

<p>McIntire graduate Susie Juárez Rodriguez featured alongside her acrylic painting titled “Centering Lustrous Convulsions.”</p>

McIntire graduate Susie Juárez Rodriguez featured alongside her acrylic painting titled “Centering Lustrous Convulsions.”

The walls of McIntire School of Commerce are home to numerous pieces by various talented artists, highlighting their model of developing creative and well-rounded students. No location 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 alumnus John P. and Stephanie F. Connaughton, the gallery showcases artists year-round.  

Every season, a new pair of artists are featured in the exhibit. This season, the McIntire Art Committee chose to display artwork by Nick Alexander, art therapist and children’s counselor, as well as Susie Juárez Rodriguez, Class of 2021 McIntire alumna.  

A specialty of Alexander’s is landscape paintings, created with oil on canvas. He draws inspiration from his own backyard of Lexington, Va. all the way to captivating sites from trips to Alaska. His artworks range from sizes 8 inches by 12 inches to 36 inches by 60 inches — a fully immersiv experience in which viewers will get lost in mesmerizing colors.

"Untitled"

Artworks by Juárez are reflections of her Mexican roots and her experimentation with colorful, 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 her most recent works.  

“Prismatic Aureoles”


“Rising Lustrous Convulsions”


“Cadmium Tidalwave”

She uses a variety of mediums, such as pencil, gouache, ink and acrylic. Each painting, some more noticeable than others, incorporates geometry in some form. Juárez classifies her work as “geometric abstraction.” 

Feb. 10 marked the opening reception of the exhibit, when students and family enjoyed impressive art, food and the opportunity to converse with the artists. Remarkably, the showcase made history as Juárez was the first McIntire graduate to ever be featured in the gallery. 

“Even though I didn't choose art as a career, it feels really special to me that I was able to choose the path of business and that I didn't have to let go of a very clear passion of mine,” Juárez said. “And to be represented in the place that I loved — I love McIntire. It was a very special moment and I still get excited over that idea of being a first.”

Although both artists create in their free time, they have seen the vast benefits of using their passion in the workforce. As a global commercial card analyst for Bank of America, Juárez has personally seen her artistic background as a big advantage in articulating stories while developing promotional materials. At Project Horizon, Alexander is a child services coordinator. He intertwines therapy and artistic expression to engage survivors of domestic and sexual violence in moments where verbal communication is not preferred or not properly suited. 

Artists have often used their work as a form of expression, adding imagery to signify their emotions and moments of importance. One location very important to Juárez is her place of birth — Monterrey, Mexico. She displays it through a trilogy of pencil and ink paintings. Each work has the continued theme of black and white tones with beautiful realistic sketched hands. National landmarks of the city — Cerro de la Silla, las Mitras and Chipinque — are featured in the background as the foreground displays personal and relevant themes of marriage, preserving culture and immigration. 

From left to right, “Bounded by Chinpinque,” “Promises Held in Las Mitras” and “Monterrey Held in the Present.”

“Those are images that I think are very deeply ingrained in the back of my mind when I think of Monterrey…I think of the mountains,” Juárez said. “Those pieces feel very emotional as I'm reflecting on my Mexican identity and how it's affected me as a person.” 

Despite both works by each artist being extremely different, there are no designated rules when pursuing art in the gallery. Each artist experimented over the years, finding strengths and weaknesses to develop their own style. Moreover, the works in the gallery deliver the message that perfection is not as imperative to success as understanding that every individual has something to offer.

“I learned from my time at U.Va. and my time at McIntire is to not worry about being perfect in the eyes of others. And being just good enough for myself in my strengths, and not trying to be something that I'm not,” Juárez said. 

The exhibit will be on display until March 4. Art lovers can find artist statements by Alexander and Juárez and how to contact them if interested in purchasing any of these pieces of art. 

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