Born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Kelvin Ramirez has constantly felt like an observer of life rather than a participant. In 1987, his family moved to the South Bronx where he began to develop a love for artistic expression. Through poetry and visual arts Kelvin began to explore his own cultural dynamics within the world’s political arena. He attended All Hallows High School where he began to think rather than believe. Continuing his education, he attended Stonehill College in North Easton, Massachusetts, where he majored in Fine Arts.
While at Stonehill, Kelvin extended his education outside of its pristine campus and traveled to Peru and Cuba. In Peru he worked alongside amazing individuals living in Canto Grande, an impoverished desert city on the outskirts of Lima. Human suffering became real on a scale he had never before experienced. While studying in La Universidad de la Habana, in Cuba, he watched art emerge from the desperation of the human spirit, witnessed political ideology take life, and observed individual integrity triumph over material consumption.
These experiences merged with those from the Dominican Republic and the South Bronx created an awareness that the realities of the human family–hope, fear, and hardship–were common threads woven into the tapestry of our collective conscious, and allowed for the discovery of his true passion: Art Therapy and Fine Arts.
Kelvin attended The College of New Rochelle where he completed the Masters Degree Program in Art Therapy and Counseling. Required to work with several clinical populations and partake in an intensive therapeutic process, Kelvin’s definition of art was challenged. It was no longer the intellectual preconceived form of forced content, but rather a visceral interpretation of what was already within. Kelvin has completed a doctorate program in Expressive Therapies at Lesley University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Lesley University’s core values include democracy, inquiry, equity and community. These values are embodied in action that expand the understanding of its students and inspire them to create a more just, humane, and sustainable world. For Kelvin Ramirez, this is an essential component in the development of compassionate art therapists who are empowered to advocate for the communities they serve. It is in this spirit that Kelvin led a group of graduate art therapy students from New York into Villa Caoba, an impoverished community in the city of La Romana, Dominican Republic. Working with a local foundation and community leaders, the group of 20 students, a dietitian and three supervising art therapists were able to provide art therapy services and meals to over 220 children and diabetes testing to over 130 adults. The following year, Kelvin organized a similar experience which took students to Nicaragua where art therapist volunteered in a special needs school providing a range of services.
From these experiences Arts Unchained emerged, an organization founded by Lesley University Professor Dr. Kelvin Ramirez, Ph.D., ATR-BC, LCAT, focused on collaborative opportunities for professionals and graduate level students from Nicaragua, Dominican Republic and The United States fostering community based commitments supporting local populations through clinical, educational, behavioral, and the creative arts therapies under a social justice framework. Partnering with FNE International, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in Boston and founded in February of 2011, Arts Unchained functions as a subcommittee of FNE International led by Executive Director Michael Cipoletti. Kelvin Ramirez serves as a Board Member for FNE International. Together with Elizabeth Youngs, MS Art Therapy, Deb Brass, MS Art Therapy and Monica Duque, MA, ATR-BC, LCAT, Arts Unchained provides access to the creative arts therapy to the communities that FNEI works with in Nicaragua and is currently developing initiatives in the Dominican Republic.
Art serves as a therapeutic vessel for self-awareness, personal growth, and integration of human duality, and is forever found itself at the center of human contemplation, protest, and discovery. Art is the manifestation of what we truly believe.