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A blast of color

Mar 17, 2009
by Carrie Pack Chowske, '00

Space. Color. Shape. Texture. They all have a place in alumna Jennifer Sánchez’s art, but it is her use of color that draws you in.

Sánchez describes her art as “exploding optimism.” A colorful mix of shapes and textures, the effect is quite upbeat, but Sánchez, ’97, says that is rarely her intent.

“The movement and colors that are used take this happiness because of the colors,” she said. “And I don’t intentionally create happy paintings. That just comes out.”

To say she works in mixed media would be an understatement. Sánchez’s art is an intriguing medley of acrylic paint, markers, pens, highlighters, paint pens, cut paper, pencil and ink. She creates on both canvas and paper. But most surprising of all is what inspires her distinctly geometric work.

After graduating from Flagler with degrees in fine art and graphic design, Sánchez didn’t set off to start her career as an artist. Instead, she joined the Peace Corps.

“I wanted to serve, and I didn’t want to focus on me,” she said. “I joined the Peace Corps to get a different perspective on life and to serve the community.”

Those experiences had an effect on her art, but Sánchez says she didn’t realize it until a few years later.

“The colors in Africa really influenced my work,” she said. “I was in a rural mud hut, with a thatched roof, hours away from a city. I just couldn’t get over that three-quarters of my frame of vision was sky.”

She was equally entranced by the African lifestyle.

“There is no frivolity,” Sánchez said. “Everything you do in a day is to survive. You spend time going to get water, collecting wood for burning. I remember thinking that I was privileged that I could paint — that I had the materials and time that I could paint.”

And that freedom to paint has helped her earn a grant from the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance and a residency with the Robert M. MacNamara Foundation as well as exhibits in galleries in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Atlanta, to name a few. Ultimately, she credits her love of color and her understanding of it to a class she took at Flagler with art professor Don Martin.

“I got a lot of support at Flagler,” she said. “No one was competitive, like a lot of art schools can be. If someone’s strong point was color or sculpting in clay or casting, that was the person you went to for advice and help. Everyone played off everyone else’s strengths. Everyone helped each other.”

For more of Jennifer Sanchez’s art, visit

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