Nina Cruz was born in 1972 in the South Bronx and raised in Connecticut, Puerto Rico and Arizona. At the age of six began drawing in a realist style. Cruz was also innately drawn to tools and wood finishes, beginning to work with them at age ten. During her academic years Cruz continued to create and frequently earned awards in competition.
In 1994, Cruz put herself through school, graduating from Paier College of Art with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. During this time, the first works that moved towards like-colours and hues began to emerge.
In 1996, Cruz settled in northern New Jersey. The following decade Cruz worked in a more illustrative style with mixed media.
In the aftermath of September 11 2001, Cruz was suddenly without employment, a roof of her own, or a vehicle. This two-year experience was the catalyst in further exploring the translation of like-colours that had begun eight years earlier. Cruz tapped into the relevance of how the pairing-down of things can contribute to clarity, focus and truth. This powerful discovery fueled new work. Cruz began rebuilding her life while continuing to paint.
In 2013, with a dedicated space to create, Cruz focused on wood stain, noticing that this medium simplified the palette from inception. Pairing down a subject's colour would allow for more study of light, shadow and form. This ushered the testing of different wood species with both oil and water based stains. Cruz developed an original method and technique, GrainStain Arts®, which uses wood stain as a fine art medium on wood substrates.
In 2017, a solo exhibition with Cruz's signature approach was held at ArtsQuest in Bethlehem PA. Consisting of fourteen portraits, the show dealt with issues of community and the amazing giving capacity of the human spirit. It was featured on the front page of the areas local newspaper, an interview on NPR radio, and other publications.
Cruz continues to work from her studio in New Jersey.
Hunterdon Art Museum, Clinton NJ
2017 Traveling Exhibition Project, “the new BLACK —VOLUNTEERISM”,
ArtsQuest at SteelStacks, Bethlehem PA
Originated project idea, researched, developed and executed concept of
using art and narrative to bring awareness to the community of the unseen
rewards of volunteerism. Exhibition was free and open to the public.
Project made local front page news and garnered an NPR interview.
2015 Special project for Habitat for Humanity
Re-purposed door into utilitarian work of art (table). Involved reconstruction,
woodworking, and fine art painting. A cactus is painted underneath, the bloom
on the face is ‘from’ the cactus.
2014 Group Exhibition, “The Art of the Flower Exhibition”,
Philadelphia Sketch Club, Philadelphia PA
2014 Group Show (all media), “To Plaid or Not to Plaid”,
The Gallery at St. John's, Easton PA
2014 Group Show, “Member's Art Exhibition”,
Artsbridge Group, Lambertville NJ
2007 Solo Show, “The Open Door"
Paula at Rigoletto, Weehawken NJ
1994 Group Exhibition, “Alumni Show"
Paier College of Art, Hamden CT
1992 Public Art Project. Design and concept development of an 11’ wooden archway
for an annual public community event. As well as life-size reproduction of wooden
storybook characters for children’s reading area.
City of Meriden, Meriden CT
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