Rhody Scholars

Faces of Honors

A new Honors Program installation of student portraits by alumni artist AGonza graces Lippitt Hall on the Kingston Campus.

The URI Honors Program commissioned artist AGonza ’16 to create portraits of four honors students. AGonza’s work was unveiled at an event in October 2023 in Lippitt Hall on the Kingston Campus, where the portraits are now on display.

Honors Program director Karen de Bruin says the goal was to create modern murals in a historic building. “We wanted to create an inclusive environment, one that shows the personality and authenticity of our students.”

Providence-based artist AGonza is a painter and muralist who works mostly in acrylics. She says she connected personally with each student before picking up her paintbrush. She asked each student to bring something that holds meaning for them. “It’s my best small collection of art, I think.”

—Kristen Curry ’92

Lohith Chatragadda is a sophomore from Lincoln, R.I., who is majoring in neuroscience and microbiology. AGonza says the formula depicted in his portrait is the formula for the conservation of mechanical energy, which illustrates how energy changes, but also symbolizes the mindset he brings to his studies.

Lina Al Taan Al Hariri is a senior who is majoring in gender and women’s studies, global language and area studies, and international studies and diplomacy. Originally from Syria, Al Hariri and her family fled Syria when she was 11 and settled in Cranston, R.I. Al Hariri was awarded a 2023 Truman Scholarship, a prestigious graduate fellowship for public service leadership. URI’s 16th Truman Scholar, she was chosen from 705 applicants from 275 institutions.

Stephen Coutu is a senior psychology and English major from North Kingstown, R.I. He is a nontraditional student who transferred to URI from CCRI and found a home in the Honors Program. For his portrait, AGonza was inspired by an hourglass tattoo on Coutu’s arm. Her portrait of Coutu, she says, conveys hope.

Thelma Iheanacho is a sophomore majoring in pharmaceutical sciences and French. She is from Nigeria and plans to transfer into the pharmacy program. She loves butterflies—something she has in common with AGonza—so that shared interest features prominently in the portrait. “This is [Thelma’s] cocoon phase,” says AGonza, “but watch out when she blossoms!”

Photos: Nora Lewis

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