Santos Leonel Orellana Paz
Born in 1974 in the Central American country of Honduras, where the legacy of the indigenous Mesoamerican culture of the Maya is preserved in time, Santos Orellana belongs to ancient and mystical worlds of iconography. In a realm of temple-pyramids, sprawling ‘lost’ cities, and a vast array of highly developed visual arts, his early childhood was spent immersed in an environment dominated by bold symbolism that has defined pre-Columbian Maya civilizations and which naturally, define him.
Coming to the U.S. in 1985 a new foreign world presents itself, starkly different from the antiquities of home. Here, it was suburban ideals and disenfranchised youth. Finding residence in New York’s Orange County city of Newburgh, Santos plunges into a subculture of concrete jungles, hip-hop, sport, and scholarship.
Initially drawn to the syllabic nature of physical science’s language, Santos attends Marist College, New York and begins his scholastic career in the field of chemistry. After graduating in 1999, Santos finds himself working within the industry for various pharmaceutical companies, exploring the complexities of compounds, properties, and the behavior of matter. After learning of San Diego’s ‘Biotech Beach’ a sudden transformation begins and with bags packed, Santos sets out yet again to discover a new landscape with an unforeseen direction, unbeknownst to him.
It is here, in Ocean Beach that the convergence of his applied scientific world meets his creative voice; and although often repressed, its this voice that continues to emerge as Santos becomes familiar with the colorful and expressive communities of Southern California. As he picks up a brush for the first time, he remembers, “Paying attention. Paying attention to this existent world, where it can be altered and aggravated, but very accessible. The scary part was opening yourself up to it”. This experience, in effect, lays the groundwork for his eventual preoccupation with the arts and is where his work begins with a set of open-ended guides to the larger whole.
It is the first guide in a series of “fortunate events” that Joanne Tawfilis comes across Santos’s work in 2006 during a Fiesta Del Sol festival in Logan Heights. As Santos juggles a successful soap company and creating artwork, Joanne gives Santos the opportunity to collaborate with The Art Miles Mural Project and is launched into a series of projects that enable him to make art.