High School seniors Aline Beaumont, Nicholas Fagan, Carmen Judy and Stephanie Soleto were this year’s recipients of the Ann B. Rodriguez Arts Scholarships.
Aline’s intricate, pen & ink drawings are impressive, complex, and full of emotion. Her use of varying line quality mixed with contrasting drips and splatters show that she is able keep an image from becoming too precious. For artists this is a hard skill to master; to leave ones personal fear of ruining an art piece by limiting experimentation instead of allowing for “mistakes.” It is often these happy mistakes which improve a piece and take it in a new direction. Aline’s mysterious illustrations of mythical narratives evoke a sensitivity to larger issues to which the viewer has the freedom to add their own story.
When we first encountered Nick Fagan’s work in Emerging Visions at GRACE two years ago, we were surprised by the sophisticated content of his work. Over the years, Nick has continued to explore important ideas but he has also developed an impressive command of his materials. With newspapers, toys, filmstrips, blue jeans, and even his father’s shoes, Nick makes art that matters. He shares his thoughts about the world around him through remarkably smart sculptures and installations that can surprise us, teach us, and even make us laugh. It’s a generous, inclusive approach to artistic expression.
Carmen’s work focuses on actively capturing raw emotions through free hand drawing. Her honest and imaginative renderings pull us into a rich world full of beauty, movement and psychological tension. In 2009 Carmen was part of an ambitious collaborative project that successfully turned a small idea of drawing History of Gold into a large scale, site-specific, three dimensional relief drawing. We heard from a number of patrons who visited the exhibition that they thought that the work was from a graduate level Fine Art student! Carmen is able to capture the viewer’s eye through her use of multiple perspectives, intense colors and sensuous swirls. Her portraits of the inner self have the rare quality of being technically delicate yet conceptually weighty.
Stephanie Soleto first came to our attention last year when she worked with intelligence and clarity to make a challenging collaborative project into a focal point of Emerging Visions: Roots at GRACE. Since then we have watched her develop into a photographer whose imagery and technique are far more refined than one would expect from someone so young. In one strange fairy tale image, a beautiful girl in a blue dress reclines on a bed of orange leaves. In another, a couple sit close together in what appears to be a field but the image is so severely cropped we must fill in the blanks with our imagination. Each photograph is as beautifully and succinctly composed as a poem. Stephanie invites the viewers to participate in her startling world with her arresting photographs.
Greater Reston Arts Center opened in 1974 to enrich community life through exhibitions and education about contemporary art. One of the ways we pursue this mission is by encouraging young people to enter careers in the visual arts. Towards that goal, GRACE provides four scholarships — two to Herndon High School students and two to South Lakes High School students who demonstrate mastery of artistic fundamentals, show great promise as emerging artists, and plan to study art at the college level. Last year, the scholarship program was named in honor of Ann B. Rodriguez, whose lifelong interest in the arts and her numerous contributions to the Northern Virginia arts community were legendary.