Mel Vera Cruz was born in 1964 in Manila, Philippines. He had two major migrations. His first migration was from the province of Quezon to the city of Manila, and his second migration was from Manila to the San Francisco Bay Area. These two major migrations had a profound effect on him.
As an effect of his emigration, he experienced discrimination and psychological displacement. Discrimination and psychological displacement were generally common experiences for emigrants. Mel had an ideal experience as a child because he spent it in the country where nature was his playground, but at the same time was a victim of discrimination early in life because of his provincial/rural background. However, his experiences fueled his desire to create. Mel’s attempt to exorcise his demons affected his art making process. This attempt of exorcism had a positive reaction from a negative situation. For Mel, this was the only way to take the baggage out of his system.
Just as he was beginning to adjust to the cosmopolitan life of Manila, he migrated to the Bay Area in California where he was labeled ‘fresh off the boat’ or FOB. This was another experience that displaced him further mentally and psychologically. However, Mel had one advantage on his side and that was using the esoteric power of art as a tool to confront his disadvantages. Not all his experiences were bad, and this reflects on his art making process and artworks. In Mel’s works, you can feel the spontaneity and joy in his creations. It is like a release of synergy that came from his overall vibe and experience.
Mel’s artworks illuminate in a chaotic but fun way. He has been interested in utilizing available materials or found objects because he likes to be self-sufficient, not only physically and mentally, but also spiritually. His surroundings definitely impacts his process and art making. Like a chemist, he can transform materials from his surroundings and then make them into pieces of art, because he believes it is integrated with his life and not separate or detached. Mel Vera Cruz, overall, believes in the freedom and independence in art making.
“You cannot reach your full creative potential when you’re subjected to those protocols“, as Mel Vera Cruz comments.