Mercedes Inez, a multidisciplinary artist and art educator, attended Loyola University Chicago with a focus in Theatre, Visual Arts, and Music. She works as a performer and teaching artist for Urban Gateways as well as working with Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre, Son Monarcas, and Nahui Ollin (all of whom are Urban Gateways touring performance groups) among others. She is the band-leader of Son Monarcas Ensemble and acts as the lead vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, playing guitar, jarana, drums, and accordion as well as dancing in the zapateado style (percussive foot tapping). She is also an independent contractor and composer for sound and scenic design for theatre and dance throughout the Chicagoland area.
“Art is therapeutic for children and adults,” Mercedes said of her work. “People don’t realize how powerful expressing themselves through art is. If a person can learn to strum a guitar or drum and sing, then they’re going to feel empowered. If they draw something and realize they can create art, or if they act in a play, then they can learn to work well with others and also feel empowered. Art provides an outlet that a lot of people don’t delve into. So I try to create a forum in the classroom and performance hall where that is possible, where you can try new things and allow yourself to create. In the classroom, the process of creating, learning techniques, and finding inspiration is just as important as the final product.”