Volunteer Spotlight: Alex Knoepffler
CMMB volunteer Alex Knopffler explains, “I’m a storyteller at heart and I’ve always been inclined to tell stories through images.” Alex is a fluent Spanish speaker who grew up in Miami. He and his younger brother, Thomas, visit Nicaragua frequently to see grandparents and a large extended family. Alex says, “My parents are art lovers, and I have always loved to draw.
When I was younger, my family lived in New York City, and my mom took me to many museums growing up. I have a very vivid, early memory of seeing the butterflies at the Museum of Natural History. I have always been very interested in the connection between art and nature, because to me, nature is art.
I have traveled to Nicaragua all my life. It is a very beautiful country, as are so many places in Central and South America are. And to me, a lot of the art in these places is nature; it’s not just human expression.”
Alex majored in modern culture and media at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. He says, “I personally love animation and time-based media because it opens a world for a viewer to play in. In college, while I took courses in a variety of departments, the classes that dealt with the theory and analysis of culture and media were the ones that opened my eyes the most. At the same time, watercolor painting, as static-image making, has always been very cathartic and therapeutic for me. I feel that the actual act of painting is meditative, and a wonderful way to explore how your own ideas mix with reality in order to come to fruition. With watercolor, you might think your painting will turn out a certain way, but the water will pull, push, and bleed your ideas into something that makes you question what you wanted in the first place.”
Alex reflects, “Although I thought I knew what I wanted to be when I was younger, my passions have evolved to encompass a larger definition of what I want to do as an artist. Ultimately, I want to create a space for people to retreat from their daily lives. I want to create a space in which they are able to explore their own emotions and thoughts. This space could take the form of stories, images, films, or other works of art and design.”
This year, CMMB’s Christmas card message was inspired by a reflection from board member Desmond Fitzgerald. The CMMB Strategy and Innovation team reached out to Alex to see if he might contribute original artwork, inspired by Desmond’s message, for the card.
Alex explains, “For the Christmas card, I wanted to create an image that would resonate with ideas of ‘global’ and ‘peace.’ Christmas and the holiday season is not just about sharing and giving, it’s also about reaching beyond yourself to give. Within my artwork and design for CMMB’s Christmas card, doves surround the earth to embody this sense of spreading love. It was very important to me to have a handmade feel to this card, since I wanted to emphasize the idea that health and charity are labors of love. The mother and child image is central to CMMB’s mission and brand. This image conveys a sense of love and giving and I felt that softer watercolors would allow for an exploration of emotion and feeling. Watercolors also evoke a sense of something delicate and balanced, like the dichotomy between emotion and work.”
I’m a storyteller at heart and I’ve always been inclined to tell stories through images.
Alex explains that CMMB’s mission—to bring health to people and places in need—strongly resonated with him. Alex says, “Coming from an international back ground, I’ve seen firsthand how much marginalized people and places need health resources. Generosity is an important family value that I learned from my parents and grandparents. I was raised in a family that emphasized the importance of philanthropy. My family has always participated, encouraging all of us to make a commitment to give back.”
One of Alex’s favorite projects at Brown was acting as a financial coach for Spanish speaking, low income families. Alex says, “As a coach, my job was more than just helping families learn to budget. I also helped single mothers explore options to increase their health and well being. The project was meant to empower them. For example, I felt good about letting families know that they were able to use their SNAP benefits at farmers markets, and that the markets would offer families using these benefits a discount. Taking charge of their financial health, budgeting, and credit, had an impact on the overall health and well-being of these families.”
Alex is now living in New York, exploring opportunities as an artist, motion graphics animator, and designer. He says, “I am very interested in digital design strategy and systems thinking. We should never take our surroundings for granted; remember, art is everywhere.”