One of the benefits of this nice weather is the ability for Essencia to keep its door physically open, so it’s easy to walk in, avoid door handles and order a latte. Often I find Nyah Cruz serving as barista. I first knew Cruz as a student at Yakima Valley College; now she not only works at the bakery, she has her art hanging on the walls.
“I got into art in a more serious matter when I was a sophomore in high school,” Cruz tells me. She first chose an art class because she needed a class to fill out her schedule, and she thought it might be something she would enjoy.
“First day back at school, my teacher, Mrs. Hulls, told me to pick a picture and draw it,” she said, “I drew this Harry Potter and Voldemort pencil drawing that blew my mind at the time. After that I was hooked; I needed to see what else I could do.”
Throughout high school, Cruz took art classes and could feel her interest in art grow “by doing and producing.”
“When I got into college, I developed more of my own style because that’s what the assignments called for. And I couldn’t be more thankful for it.”
Although Cruz felt that high school art classes taught her basic skills, she felt she needed to explore her own style.
“I’ve learned that I’m inspired by color, people, nature, music and feelings. Am I allowed to say I’m inspired by everything? Because I really am. I feed off everything and put it into my art. But most importantly, I’m inspired by the artists who taught me what I know today and the ones who inspired me to continue my journey.”
Her work on the walls of Essencia reflect a variety of styles. One is reminiscent of the 1902 science fiction film by Georges Méliès, “A Trip to the Moon.” Another is like the comic book pop art style of Roy Lichtenstein. All explore the human figure.
Cruz says she is “excited for what my art future holds. I plan on going to art school so I can explore the art world more in depth within these next few years.”
You can see her work at Essencia Artisan Bakery at 4 N. Third St. in Yakima.
• David Lynx is executive director of the Larson Gallery at Yakima Valley College. Learn more at www.larsongallery.org.