Emilio Cruz (1938-2004) was born in New York City where he lived for most of his life. An African-American born of Cuban descent, his continued deliberation on the mythic dimensions of human experience and expression carried through his multiple identities and activities as visual artist, poet, playwright and musician. For many years this veteran artist worked on paintings that involved large themes alluding to archetypes from a transcultural web of belief systems and traditions. Cruz was convinced that in order to produce any art of significance, one must have a clear commitment to humanity and its universal moral imperatives. He said “…integrity is formulated by acknowledging those things that we find inform us about the nature of the human spirit. The word inspired means ‘in the spirit’. (Being) in the spirit is always avant garde. For this reason Palaeolithic art always seems new, because it defines the moment of inspiration, through certainty of truth.”
Cruz exhibited nationally and internationally and is represented in numerous museum collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; the National Museum of American Art and the Hirshhorn Museum of Art, Washington D.C.; the Albright Knox Museum, Buffalo, New York; and the Wadsworth Antheneum, Hartford, Connecticut. The artist received many honors, including a John Jay Whitney Fellowship and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Joan Mitchell Foundation.