On a breezy February afternoon, Bianca Ornelas, 25, sits on the Cal Poly Pomona (CPP) campus and discusses her love for old Hollywood films, all things history, road trips, and the anxiety she experiences when having to answer phones.
With a gleam in her eyes, Ornelas raved about the first time she fell in love with black and white filmography (“Some Like It Hot” with Marilyn Monroe changed her life at the age of 15 when she saw it for the first time during her quinceañera in Hawaii), and demonstrated her chameleon personality apparent in her love for Duke Ellington, Black Sabbath and Beethoven.
Ornelas, a second-year communication transfer student, currently works for the Associated Students Inc. (ASI) Marketing, Design and Public Relations department as a multimedia developer, but let it be known that multimedia developer is just one of many talents she boasts that would make just about anyone feel short of adequate.
Primarily an artist, Ornelas’s latest project includes the chalk wall mural currently housed in Innovation Brew Works, CPP’s very own brewery located on Temple Avenue.
While the experience of chalking on wall as opposed to floor was all too new for her – and while the short amount of time to complete it seeped into the premiere date of Star Wars, which provided a great sense of panic – Ornelas stated that the exposure and opportunity was all worth it.
“It took about five days [to complete the mural], where I spent five to seven hours [each day],” said Ornelas. “I was such a perfectionist; I wanted it perfect.” She credited her inspiration for the piece to the vintage, fruit-crate “made in California” type of advertising.
Ornelas’s artist personality transcends beyond the canvas, however, with involvement in productions of short independent films. The last independent film she was involved in (and had a leading role in) was “The After,” a psychological thriller about two sisters haunted by their mother’s memory. Her current project involves being a camera-person for an indie film about a drug deal gone wrong – filmed within two days in the various streets of Downtown Los Angeles.
In addition to these involvements, Ornelas also started a nonprofit organization with her mother called The Ordoza Project. “Our mission is to give early education for kids between the ages of three and six in low-income communities,” said Ornelas.
Their organization created products that teach letters, shapes and sounds using a variety of learning techniques since every child learns differently. And in what’s perhaps the most envious aspect of all: Ornelas provided voice-over work for the learning cartoons of the organization. Not many people could boast the fact that they’ve contributed to cartoon work.
However, despite all these projects – and despite it being something she never even really actively pursued, but just did – art remains her true love.
“To bring some type of intense emotion [through art] to other people with inspiration and happiness – that’s the best feeling in the world,” said Ornelas.
The proudest moment of her life came when she won “Best Use of Color” at the Pasadena Chalk Festival, which she’s participated in every year for five years. It was during her third year where she won for her mural, titled “California Fresh,” for best use of color out of 200 participants who mostly had 25 years of festival experience under their belts.
While discussing the preparation process of beginning new pieces (a special playlist that consists of Bjork, Lana Del Rey and Beethoven – at once, even opera), Ornelas reflected on the obstacles of being an artist.
“The most difficult aspect is to be OK with what you’ve created,” said Ornelas. “Because as an artist, you’re your biggest critic.”
Ornelas described her art as similar to fine art or realism, strong in color but without any actual technique, and cited Rembrandt as her favorite artist.
Ornelas grew up in the city of Chino, California where she spent her days drawing indoors or engaging in mischievous, Outsiders-esque activities with her cousins.
“I would get in trouble a lot,” said Ornelas, reiterating that this was a time way before Internet or cellphones. “[My cousins and I] would go around and throw rocks at people’s windows.”
Ornelas described her mother as loving, supportive and a bigger nerd than she is, stating that she’s super into sci-fi and that they’d often attend concerts together, such as Morrissey. Her father, who she described as “like the terminator,” is a military veteran of 25 years, and currently works as a medical assistant at Kaiser.
Ornelas opened up about family trips taken every summer with her parents and two younger brothers, stating that they’ve essentially been everywhere with the exception of the Pacific Northwest and the Deep South. Her favorite places were Salem, Massachusetts (“everything’s older; they have graves from the 1700s.”) and Yellowstone in Wyoming, which extends through Montana and Idaho.
“In Yellowstone, since there’s no civilization anywhere in this huge park, you get to see how America looked before it was touched by other people,” said Ornelas. “The air smelled like perfume, and you could hear the hundreds of buffalo running across the plains and it almost sounds like thunder; it was like a spiritual experience.”
With her favorite author being Mark Twain (“Pudd’nhead Wilson” is her favorite Twain piece), Ornelas stated that she always makes an effort to visit someplace associated with Twain during these road trips, which have included his childhood home in Missouri and mansion in Connecticut.
Being on the road every summer with her family is essentially what she lives for.
As the February wind slowly picked up and the amount of students dwindled as they rushed to class, our conversation concluded with a reflection of what she’d like people to know about her: she’s someone that would always be there.
“Even if you’re a complete stranger, I’ll be there for you if you need me,” said Ornelas.