y r o st ab ou
a e l t lit crea
Designed and Written by Bianca Maxwell Harris
ince I was old enough to have an
opinion my Grandmother and Mother have been building a collection from my artistic youth. This collection included paintings, sculptures, videos, short stories, diaries, letters, porcelain dolls, clothing designs, handmade Barbie clothes and pictures. I call this collection, The ‘Art’Chives. Many things have been lost over the years during cross-country moves, mice revolts and indoor monsoons, but a decent amount has survived the trials and tribulations of storage. The fourth day of my winter vacation, I dove into depths of the extreme clutter in my Grandmother’s basement and dug to recover two giant suitcases that encased the remnants of my childhood. Dragging the ‘remnants of my childhood’ into the living room was like working as the ‘Fixer’ for the Mafia. It felt like I was dragging a body up the staircase (not that I would know). After opening the suitcases I realized these were not just ‘remnants of my childhood’ it was a montage of art from my younger sister, design journals, samples, pictures from my mother, negatives from my first photo shoot and a number of other things I have never seen, read or remembered. I began sifting through the papers, pictures, frames, journals and letters and organizing them in order of who made them. Three odd shaped piles laid around me in a semi-circle. I quickly made a cup of tea to hydrate before my journey down memory lane. After a few minutes and a deep gulp from my chai tea I sat and looked to the pile on my left. I recognized the handwriting instantaneously.
he first piece of paper on the pile was covered in
my mother’s one of a kind handwriting. It always reminded me of what a fairy would write like if fairies were real. I called her before I went any further to let her know I was going through some of her mementos. She was more than excited to share part of her history with me, and asked me to let her know my thoughts after I finished. My mother started off as a designer when I was born. I spent an hour careful turning the pages of the thin paper she used to sketch costumes for stage plays, and for her collections. I vaguely remember her studio ‘1313’ as I look at black and white photos. I was about 4 when they were taken. She started doing make up in the early 90s. While looking at some of my mothers small paintings, it reminded me how she always explained make up as simple ‘painting’ a face. It was showing a new perspective by enhancing features, creating depth and glow. Finding the beauty from within. As I looked through her ‘Before and After’ polaroids, I thought about how I would run around on production sets and photography studios. How I slept on leather couches as music blasted during a photoshoot, and played backstage in theaters in the costume department. I remembered the scripts in a pile in her office that I secretly read, the prosthetic noses on a shelf in the living room I played with when she was gone, and the make up chair she used to turn the Everyday Jane to Sultry Suzie. While thumbing through my mothers old
portfolios and samples, I remembered how much fun I had as a child go to work with my Mother, and how much I wanted to be her world. My young and creative mother shared her adventures and talents with her children. She moved us up and down the California coast and taught us how to ‘paint’ faces,. My Mother always told my sister and I to learn more than one craft, and to do them well. It was her insurance policy that we would never be without a ‘marketable skill.’ A memento of one of her business ventures laid under a frame in the pile. It was a crushed little box with a water stained label that held our handmade scented candles. My Mother would throw caution to the wind and pursue an idea full throttle. She would spend hours making sure the logos and products were perfect. While holding a relic from her past I realize her entrepreneurial spirit is where I inherited my interest in business and marketing. My Mother was always a rebel, so giving birth to two children with completely different personalities was no surprise for her. That’s when I looked over to the second and largest pile and only two words came to mind as I looked at it. The Rebellion.
(top left) My mother on set powdering Michael Jordan. (columns) Designs by my mother made shortly after my birth
he second stack was a mixture of art, letters, journals, stories and scripts
written by myself or my Younger Sister. I began to separate this pile into separate piles for myself and her. Her pieces of art were easily identifiable. My Younger Sister had written her name obnoxiously on every drawing and painting she had ever made. In her journals she wrote on the cover, in large bold letters, ‘If your name is not Bianca, stay out!’ I give a lighthearted chuckle because I can imagine the angry face of my Younger Sister, and the seriousness of her 7 year old warnings. We were fuzzy, wild looking children that looked nothing alike, let alone be sisters. My Younger Sister had long kinky blonde hair, ivory skin, sparkly blue eyes and serious ‘old soul’ demeanor and I had a curly brown mane, big brown eyes, olive skin and awkward goofiness. We couldn’t be any more different. Looking at some pictures of us I remember the wars we waged in our after school programs together. I fought my battles in practical ways, like trying to talk things out. My Younger Sister, was more forthright. She once tore the head off of a doll that belonged to a girl calling her names. As I look at a picture of us in matching outfits, I can’t help but think that she is my polar opposite. Rummaging, I find a picture of us playing in the backyard with palm tree leaves after moving to California. I think about the numerous new schools we attended growing up. With my Mother working in the industry, we moved where the jobs were. We have been to more than 10 schools total, and on each coast of the United States. With ever changing scenery, my Younger Sister and I were little rebels. We waged war against one another at home, but always joined forces to protect one another. No one could ever threaten one of us and not expect the other to show up. This was especially true on the schoolyard. I remember the hot concrete of a California recess, and my Younger Sister finding me on the soccer field to stop the teasing we always attracted. As a 5th grader, facing a 7th grader with a
habit of telling ‘Your Mama’ jokes was my first experience of a high pressure environment. My mother was many things, and my sister never backed down from fights, so I had to be creative with my words to not only keep us out of the Principal’s office, but to stop bullies taking advantage of the ‘New Girls.’ A note from one of my Younger Sister’s teachers is folded neatly in an old binder. The teacher was notifying my mother that the my Younger Sister was, as we call it, being ‘hard headed.’ We were very often too creative and independent to be told exactly what to do when it came to doing certain things in school, including Art. We spent weekends baking clay, designing wire jewelry or collaging with our mother. I was in trouble often for spending too much time on projects, and my Younger Sister was in trouble for doing things like dumping glitter on a friend’s head. Looking back I realize some school environments can be too rigid. With a deep exhale I look at the untidy pile of paper and pictures. It was a literal representation of the relationship my younger sister and I had during our formative years. The scheming, the adventures and the love was all there in her sloppy handwriting, and well thought out drawings. Our childhood waged a war on normalcy and favored for individualism. We were creative because we enjoyed our imaginations without concerns of judgements. Without realizing it, we found our own identities in art stores and paint smocks. With my Younger Sister starting her first year of college, I think about the impact we had on one another. If I had never had a younger sister, I would have never had an art partner, or a reason to to advocate for others. And more importantly, I would have never pushed myself to set an example as we became older and ventured down differing paths. I realized that my Younger Sister is a major part of the type of person and leader I have become.
an ambitious storyteller
he first thing I reach for is my blue Baby Book. It is one of my
favorite things to look at when I need a trip down memory lane. I flip the delicate pages covered in my mother’s cursive and look at the pictures pasted on photo paper. My mother’s imagination and creativity during my incubation is something to be rivaled. With serious thoughts of naming me ‘Tuesday Epiphany’ or ‘Emmanuelle Mackenzie,’ she settled on ‘Bianca Maxwell.’ Up until college, I hid that I had a boy’s name as my middle name. Growing up with a giraffe-like neck, rabbit teeth and poodle hair, other children had plenty of ammo to fire away with taunts. ‘Maxwell’ would just be another oddity to add to that list. Putting the baby book down, and I focused my attention on the stockpile of multicolored papers next to of me. I started sifting again. I pull out a folder decorated, with the words ‘Death during a Dark Storm’ scribbled on the cover. I flip through the pages and read a few pages of my short stories. These were the beginnings of a passionate storyteller. I set it aside to read to my grandmother later on.
I continue to sift through papers and pull out a preschool drawing. It was me with a circle around my head, figure skates, a tutu and crown. On the bottom in my teacher’s neat handwriting it says, ‘When I grow up I want to be an Ballerina Figure Skating Astronaut.’ This encourages a giggle, and then a question. What did I want to be when I was little? I remember in jumbled memories the various aspirations I had, but what was the underlying goal? I kept this thought in the front of my mind as I began to go through a small box of pictures. It was a great question who’s answer would be able to narrow down what type of work I should aspire to do after graduation in May. Every child is asked what they want to be when they grow up. My answers to questioning adults always included two or more job titles. I have never lacked ambition. Pulling out old class photos
from the box, I used post-its to attach my career choices to them. After finding as many photos as I could, and racking my brain, I finished the mini project.
Ballerina Figure Skating Astronaut
After looking over the evolution of my career choices it was apparent that I have always wanted to work in a creative field, and one that made an impact on others. When I was 8, I wanted to make people into zombies, use reel blood and looked up to Rick Baker. At 9, I wanted to create movies like ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ and write romance movies. By 11 I had settled on working with children as a writer and psychologist. Thinking about my childhood aspirations while flipping through the pictures and papers reminded me that I have always had more after school activities than friends. Moving often made it difficult to have many friends. Each place would be vastly different from the last so I learned how to be open to change and flexible. My mothers solution was enrolling me into as many classes and activities as she could find. Those classes and activities always allowed me to my imaginations, as did playing at home. No matter the location we moved to my mother always made sure to have ample papers, paints, charcoals, clay etc. so that after a day at school I could escape into whatever project I was working on. I spent a month working on a dollhouse once. I made the house out of cardboard. Used clay to create furniture, and covered it with scrap fabric. I spent nights cutting from magazines for scenery, and days sewing new doll clothed by hand with scraps of fabric. If I wasn’t busy with a project, I was reading. I was, and still an avid reader. Reading was an escape, a mental exercise and an inspiration for me. After sifting through papers, pictures and journals, I gathered everything I had laid out in front of me. I neatly packed everything back into the suitcases, and returned them to the dark corners of my house, to be visited at a later date. The journey down memory lane was an evening well spent, and gave me a variety of answers of why and how I am creative. It was apparent that I used my imagination as a child to make ordinary everyday life extraordinary, but I still needed an answer to what it was that makes me a creative adult. Thats when I remembered a quote I read a few months ago while exploring on Tumblr.
Cartoonist & Make Up Artist
Cartoonist & Special Effects Make Up Artist
Special Affect Make Up Artist & Script Writer
Claymation Artist, Film Producer
Child Psychologist & Children’s Writer
â€œThe creative adult is the child who has survivedâ€™ -Ursula LeGuin
My childhood is what makes me creative. My family nurtured me to be expressive since birth. My mother showed me how to be innovative, individualistic and find alternative solutions to everyday problems. She showed me how to be ambitious and use my imagination as a tool for success. My younger sister drove me to be a leader and advocate for myself and others. Our curiosity and our ideas lead us to new discoveries on a weekly basis. My own hunger to learn and experience as a child allows me to be open-minded and willing to look at opportunities from different perspectives as an adult. Seeing value in something that is not automatically represented takes a creative mind. I have been surrounded by the acts of someoneâ€™s imagination and craftsmanship my entire life, so it would only be natural that I reenact what I see. I make life interesting by not settling for the ordinary route.
Additional Information for Application Why this vehicle for ‘What Makes Me Creative’? I did not want to do something predictable, like a video montage, to demonstrate and explain my creativity for this application. I choose to tell a short story about my family to show you, the reader, that my creativity steams from a rich history of growing as a person in a flexible environment. An environment that nurtured and demanded fresh ideas and self expression. The same environment that I believe Ogilvy & Mather provides to it’s Associates. With writing a short story I am able to share my personality and writing style with you. The pictures aid in creating a visual image of the stories, and the person telling them to you. The design of the booklet is a demonstration of how I accomplished teaching myself basic typography.