How Kim Cruz's Love For Art Led To A Passion For Helping Others

Kim Cruz, a painter, TV host, and a multifaceted woman is dedicated to helping children and showcasing her art globally, embodying the idea that people can be many things, much like art itself.

When you encounter Kim Cruz, you’re greeted by more than just a beautiful face; you’re met with an eloquent speaker, a captivating conversationalist. But it’s in her love for art that Kim truly shines. 

Kim started painting at a young age, mainly as a fun activity and to give her family gifts. Her parents, who are art collectors, greatly inspired her. “Growing up, my parents were very supportive of me,” she said.

In college, Kim studied fine arts and aimed to work in museum curation and art history abroad. “I wanted to own an art gallery; that was my goal.” Her eyes light up when she talks about art, revealing her deep passion for the topic.

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A True Passion

For a period, Kim graced television screens as a Myx VJ before transitioning to hosting on ESPN. 

However, when the pandemic hit, she took a step back and reflected on her true passion: art. She wanted to study art again and possibly move abroad for it, but the pandemic put those plans on hold.

During this time, Kim found support from Secret Fresh, a major gallery owned by Bigboy Cheng. Bigboy not only helped her start her art career but also encouraged her to hold her first art show, despite her doubts. 

Photo via Instagram @kimcruzart

“He was the one who encouraged me to do my first show. He saw that I was painting for fun,” she said. “I was really nervous about it. I really wasn’t confident. But I just had a little push, and I was like, maybe I should try it,” she added. 

The show was a success, giving Kim the confidence to pursue more opportunities. She began showcasing her art internationally, starting with Tokyo and Spain, with plans for a show in the US.

Even with a day job in the US, Kim finds solace in art, using it as a form of therapy to stay focused and balanced.

Art and Its Therapy

In addition to creating art, Kim actively uses art as a tool to aid others. She highlighted the significance of Art Therapy, a form of psychotherapy that encourages free self-expression through various artistic mediums such as painting and drawing.

Kim founded the Kalma Art Foundation in collaboration with Lokal Lab, an NGO in Siargao, and Called to Rescue, an organization initiated by Anthony Pangilinan. She expressed her goal of uniting foundations and strengthening communities to offer support.

“My mission is to build a more cohesive community through art,” she said. “I aim to bridge the gap between global issues and local awareness, especially now that I reside in the States. I want to raise awareness about global issues and encourage my community there to be more informed about world affairs.”

Photo via Instagram @kalmafoundation

“For me, it’s all about raising awareness and helping people understand the healing benefits of art, which can greatly contribute to better mental health,” she added. “I also strive to bring communities together and support Filipino artists.”

“I want to change the perception that pursuing art is a waste. There are ways to monetize it and make a living from it,” she emphasized. “Not everyone excels in math, science, or engineering. We all have our unique talents, and for me, art is where my passion lies. I believe there are many children like me who lack the means to pursue their artistic passions, and I want to support them.”

A Catalyst for Social Change

Kim emphasized how art can drive social change. “Art can be a catalyst for social change by spreading awareness,” she explained. “For example, I have a video of kids singing together while painting. It’s not just a pastime; these kids were proud to take home their artwork to show their parents. I remember wanting to buy a piece from a talented kid, but he wanted to keep it because it was sentimental to him.”

“It may seem like a simple painting session, just an hour with paint, but it’s more than that. It’s about sparking creativity in kids and making them realize their talents. Through art therapy, we aim to not only spark creativity but also help kids realize their talents and enhance their abilities,” Kim elaborated. “Art therapy includes photography, music, dancing, and acting. It’s about encouraging kids to enhance their talents, regardless of their background.”

Photo via Instagram @kalmafoundation

Kim also highlighted how art therapy helps children, especially those who have difficulty expressing trauma. “In rescue centers, we plan activities for the kids, and I’ve noticed how these activities help them warm up to each other and build friendships,” she shared.

“Art therapy also helps in cultivating gratitude. It changes who you are as a person,” Kim added. These moments keep Kim motivated to keep working on her art and her foundation.

Across Continents

Photo via Instagram @kimcruzart

When asked about the influence of global exposure on her artistic vision and approach, Kim expressed, “It has definitely made me more open-minded. Previously, my knowledge was limited, and exposure to different cultures helped broaden my perspective. For instance, I create figurative works, which may be perceived differently in Europe compared to our more conservative country. Studying Renaissance paintings growing up, I learned to appreciate the human body without sexualizing it.”

Exhibiting abroad has provided Kim with a profound insight into the distinct art scenes of different countries, ranging from Spain to Japan and the US. It transcends mere display of artwork; it entails adapting to diverse communities and cultures. The most enriching aspect of international exhibitions for Kim is the chance to learn from each culture and use those lessons in her art and daily life.

“Meeting talented artists from around the world is truly inspiring. Despite our different backgrounds, we share a common mindset and passion for art. It’s a beautiful experience to connect with them and learn from their diverse perspectives.”

Strong Mentors

Photo via Instagram @kimcruzart

Kim mentioned Bigboy Cheng earlier, but she also considers Ben Cab as her mentor. “I’ve been fortunate to have amazing mentors in all aspects of my life,” she said. “One important lesson I learned from Tito Ben is humility and staying grounded,” she added. “I had my first exhibit at 23 and now at 26, with just three years in the art world, I’ve seen tremendous growth. This growth is a result of applying the lessons from my mentors, who have been through it all.”

“It’s about placing yourself at a lower platform, accepting and learning from everything they teach, and not letting achievements get to your head,” she explained. “I see myself continuously improving, always striving to be better every day and learning from everyone I meet. It’s about putting your ego aside. That’s a valuable lesson I learned from him.”

“Connecting with people and being more aware has been crucial,” she added. “Bigboy [Cheng] and Tito Anthony [Pangilinan] have also been significant mentors for me. I feel blessed to have such successful yet humble individuals around me. There’s no ego, and my mindset is that I’m forever a student.”

Art and Women

Kim’s art often centers on the female figure. When asked about the messages or themes she aims to convey through her work, particularly concerning femininity and empowerment, she explained, “I express myself through my art, which is how I introduce myself to people. I also collect art, and I’m drawn to peaceful pieces because I see myself as calm. Art therapy has helped me become more centered.”

“I want to empower women through my art. The sketches I create are from live models, so I meet the women I depict,” she continued. Kim emphasized the multifaceted nature of women, saying, “Women can be strong and gentle. I want my art to help women and others feel connected and create a safe space for them.”

The Most Important Thing 

When asked about the definition of true wealth and luxury, Kim shared, “I wake up every day and I think health for me is true luxury, my family being healthy, everyone that I love being healthy. My end goal is I never want to see the people that I love going through a tough time. So that is luxury for me. It’s also having the free time. It’s just like taking time for yourself and luxury doesn’t have to be an expensive thing or buying yourself a new bag to feel it. For me, luxury can be small things like buying yourself iced coffee in the morning and feeling good about it. Especially how I see myself, my end goal is to just be on a farm or by the beach with my loved ones, enjoying quiet moments. So luxury for me is just being at peace.”

Photo via Instagram @kimcruzart

From being a student painter and TV host to helping kids and showcasing her artworks in galleries and museums here and abroad, Kim Cruz embodies the essence of a woman who doesn’t confine herself to just one role. 

She understands herself and her purpose in this world. While some people strive to find that one defining aspect of their lives, Kim has found herself in many forms. Just like art, which can take many shapes, Kim Cruz is also multifaceted. Just as art can be a myriad of expressions, Kim, too, is a tapestry of talents and passions. She’s a true example of how we can all be like art—beautiful, unique, and always changing. 

Banner photo courtesy by Excel Panlaque of KLIQ, Inc.

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