Manager of UMAR Arts Center, Charlotte
Bachelor of Arts in Art, UNC Charlotte (2009)
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, UNC Charlotte (2009)
Master of Art Therapy, The George Washington University (2012)
Hometown: Charlotte, NC
As a student at UNC Charlotte, Alex Cruz "learned that art is a visual language, and the most successful art pieces are those which reflect who we are and what we are trying to say." That preparation "to teach and guide others in the art world" laid the foundation for her work as the Manager of UMAR Arts Center Charlotte.
Located in the NoDa area, UMAR Arts Center is an arts studio for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. At the Center they explore all forms of art, from music and song writing to the horticultural and fine arts. The adults are working artists and earn commission from the plants and/or artwork they sell. The art-making serves as an avenue for participants to express themselves, as well as a way to earn a living and gain independence. Alex coordinates the daily operations, develops and manages the arts programming, and develops participant goals that are consistent with their person-centered plan.
"Overall, my experiences at UNC Charlotte shaped my ability to be a creative problem solver," Alex says. "Whether in the art room tackling a foreign art medium, or testing a hypothesis, there is always a way and always a solution. We may just have to think differently about the way we approach it, have the patience for trial and error, and seek information. This concept has proved invaluable to me as a professional in my current profession, where we are continually looking to grow and evolve as a dynamic and forward thinking arts program."
Alex's latest forward-thinking project at UMAR Arts Center is a micro-business concept: The Noda Art Garden, located inside the McGill Rose Garden. The garden is designed to operate as a specialty herb and novelty plant enterprise maintained by the UMAR artists. They will receive 40% commission from all sales.
"My education at UNC Charlotte challenged my artistic and scientific ways of thinking and creating," she says. "My professors in the arts program kept high standards and expected thorough results from their students, while providing the inspiration and instruction for success."