Former Riverside City College student Arlene Tomista Antonio inspires through art

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Angel Peña | Viewpoints


By Benjamin De Leon


From being homeless to attending one of the best schools for visual and performing arts, Arlene Tomista Antonio makes her second debut in this year’s honor student exhibit.

This year’s exhibit put on by the Honors Program, was filled with mesmerizing pieces that the professors from the art department deemed unique and refined.

An artist that exemplified creativity and exhibited her talent through a self portrait was Antonio.

The amount of detail in the shading and use of contrasting patterns makes the portrait seem likes its coming right at you.

Antonio had recently graduated from Riverside City College and is now working alongside professor Leslie Brown in the Art Exhibit as a gallery attendant located in the Arthur  G. Paul Quadrangle on campus.

This was her second time having a piece selected to be put in the gallery. Last year she had pieces that consisted of mixed media painting and design painting.

This year the piece that was featured was a self portrait done with conte crayons on wax paper.

“I was not supposed to have mixed the two medias but did it otherwise because I liked how it was coming out,” Antonio said.

It truly did work in her favor with the amount of detail that can be seen at first glance.

When asked about her past, Antonio confessed that she was homeless for two years and in between couch surfing and sleeping in her car, she had to drop out of college in order to make money.

Fortunately, a friend she knew for a decade reached out and welcomed her into a room in Riverside. It was from here she would meet professor and life long friend Brown.

In addition, she became friends with former Art Club Vice President Ricardo Corona, who got her involved with Art Club.

Over the following two semesters she would be elected Inter Club Counsel representative and treasurer and would later become the president.

“This had brought so many opportunities I never thought I would receive the privilege of having so early on in my art career,” Antonio said.

A few of the accomplishments Antonio has achieved consists of making an artist catalogue for print maker John Greco and being commissioned by RCC to make a painting for, now retired, Vice President on the RCC Board of Trustees, Janet Green.

“It’s definitely hard work and to see how much you’ve grown with it, that’s what makes it worth it,” Antonio said.

It was clear why Brown is so fond of Antonio because of her grip on art and how she stands apart from the rest.

“I’m looking for something you haven’t seen before, but with technical skill,” Brown said. “First a craftsman, then an artist.”

Antonio’s artistry has taken her beyond RCC and she is now attending Art Center College of Design located in Pasadena. This is quite a big deal considering it is ranked in the top 5% when it comes to visual and performing arts schools.

In addition, Antonio is also minoring in social innovation because she would like to give back to communities that  are underprivileged because of her past experiences living in an art neglected community.

A few of Antonio’s end goals consist of pursuing editorial illustration and to participate in more galleries.

“I want to be a positive influence for my little brother and for others who have struggled as I have,” she said.

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