Cortez, 16, found herself raising her voice in frustration as she tried to rally her classmates into action on work that was a part of the recent Emerging Arts student exhibit at the dA Center for the Arts.
"I didn't see people working so hard at it," Cortez recalled.
She told her fellow art students she realized they were tired of the long-term project but they needed to put more energy into completing the mural.
"We all want to finish it. Let's finish it together," Cortez recalls telling them.
The students finished the project and produced a colorful 8-feet tall by 16-feet wide mural with well known landmarks and symbols representing different cultures. A dragon, the Eiffle Tower, Egyptian pyramids, Leaning Tower of Pisa, Golden Gate Bridge, African Renaissance Monument and the center portion of the Aztec Calendar are among the landmarks and symbol objects represent various cultures in the artistic piece.
The mural project began about a year and a half ago after a mural of the Aztec calendar painted in the 1960s by Ganesha students on a campus wall was accidentally painted over, said Vicki Tessier, visual and performing arts teacher specialist for Pomona Unified School District.
Some time later, Ganesha art teacher Kevin Tharpe was approached by school administrators about pursuing a mural project.
Mural art was an area Tharpe hadn't tried before but he embraced it and spoke to his students at the time about creating a new mural for the school.
The 2011-12 advanced art students initially thought about painting another Aztec calendar but after some discussion the idea evolved into one of painting a mural that was representative of the diversity that exists at Ganesha, he said.
"They were really open to having as many cultures represented," Tharpe said.
Tharpe asked the school admissions office for some statistics on the school's ethnic and cultural make up that inspired mural concept designs one of which was the one consisting of the cultural landmarks.
Last year's students began the project and this year's advanced art and Advanced Placement students picked it up taking the original concept and refining it, Tharpe said.
"They took it personally and wanted it to be successful," he said.
Junior Christian Sarabia said he and his classmates worked to add detail to the mural to give it greater definition.
Ruvicell Vazquezsaid his classmates thought some additional landmarks should be added such as the African Renaissance Monument. Although the Egyptian pyramids represent Egypt in the African continent some may see them and associate them with the Middle East, he said. Adding the Monument, located in Senegal, brought an element to the mural that clearly represents Africa.
Sarabia said students invested a great deal of time outside of class on the project.
But the time was well-spent, students said.
"I'm glad I put that much work into it. It was worth it," Cortez said.
A few students who were part of the first group said the project at one time seemed a bit overwhelming.
After completing the mural "it feels like you can do pretty much anything," said senior Mercedes Ruiz.
"It's pretty amazing," said senior Stephanie Rosado. When the project began "I didn't think it was such a big deal."
Now she sees the mural as a significant accomplishment.
The mural has more than a good design, said Chris Toovey, president of the board of directors of the dA Center for the Arts.
There was a time when some people would not have welcomed such a design, he said.
"I'm glad to see this. It really does represent a new time," Toovey said,
For some, art is a source of income but the students' mural have shown art is so much more than that, he said.
"Art is about community, about telling a story, about people's culture and their way of living," he said.
Tharpe said the mural is expected to go on permanent display at Ganesha's cafeteria at a future date.