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Artist’s difficult life won’t define her

Artist’s difficult life won’t define her

By ERIK MEDINA

Call Pima Community College student Montessa White an artistic Cinderella. “I’m a creative, ambitious person — I like to think at least,” White said. “I think I’m pretty smart and I want to do what I want to do. I have a lot of dreams and passions and I’m trying to pursue that. I’m a dreamer.”

Montessa White puts finishing touches on a sketch at the West Campus Library.
Erik Medina / Aztec Press

White was born on June 14, which makes her a Gemini. Although White does not pay much attention to astrology, she believes Gemini actually does describe who she is.

“I can be two different people,” she said. “I can be smart and nice Montessa or really mean Montessa.”

White is originally from southern California, mainly the Yorba Linda and Placentia areas.

White didn’t grow up in an average family. She was raised by her mother after her mother and father separated. White’s mother left for California and her father stayed in Arizona.

“It’s complicated, I know,” she said.

White didn’t have a “happy-go-lucky” life as a child. She constantly movedaround and was homeless at one point.

“I was sleeping next to mailboxes with my mom’s jean jacket wrapped around me,” she said.

However, White said she doesn’t let that define her. She strives for the best, despite her struggles in life.

White can recall one moment she classifies as happy: the moment she met her stepfather.

“My life flipped upside down, like the ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,’” she said. “We were in a really bad situation and then we moved into a nice household.”

“Goddess” by Montessa White

Eventually White moved to Oro Valley to live with her father, and attended Ironwood Ridge High School.

White’s years of moving around meant she missed a lot of high school between her freshman and sophomore years.

She had to scramble to make up missing credits needed to graduate.

“Everyone was bitching about their classes,” she said. “I had a full schedule, plus online classes. Twice as many classes.

It was hell.”

White completed high school with top grades, and graduated on time.

At PCC, White is majoring in digital art with a concentration in illustration. She is also looking into animation classes.

Besides attending school, White works as a student aide at the West Campus library. She works along Christine Seliga,

a library service specialist who has known White since August.

Seliga describes White as a creative and conscientious person.

“She’s got amazing skills with drawing and coming up with concepts for her design class,” Seliga said. “Montessa has

some visions that other people don’t have. She’s got some talents.”

Like many artists, White started drawing at a young age.

“My mom actually told me she would find my sketches on the toilet paper while using the bathroom,” she said.

Her go-to supply is a pencil. She does have other instruments for drawing but likes to stick to the basics.

White doesn’t draw inspiration from any famous artists.

“Inner Beauty” by Montessa White

“I actually don’t look towards famous artists,” she said. “I think their work is cool. I like looking at it sometimes, but I don’t care.”

White does relate to animator Tim Burton. They do not draw or create similar pieces, but she thinks they share similar art styles.

White can’t put a name to her style. She mainly draws people but tweaks them.

She also creates feminist art, which she defines as women drawing women.

Her post-Pima plans include finding a good school with digital art and animation programs, possibly in California.

She would enjoy any job related to full-length or short films, but would especially like to work on storyboards by helping with characters or background art.

Her dream job would be working as a storyboard artist at Disney.

In fact, Disney has been a very important part of White’s difficult life. Disney movies taught her life lessons such as to have courage and to follow her dreams.

If she could be in any Disney movie, White said she’d be in either “Beauty and the Beast” or “Cinderella.”

“Cinderella is my life,” she said. “I feel like I’m like Belle and a little like Jasmine because Jasmine is fierce and fire. I can actually see myself in any movie.”