Interview with Diana Benavidez 10/27/2020
Diana Benavidez is an artist from the San Diego/Tijuana border region, her practice explores piñata-making as a method of expression and storytelling. Diana builds piñatas that reflect upon her experiences growing up along the Mexican-American border, her identity, and binational culture. Her work is known for introducing materials not commonly found in traditional piñatas including media and technology.
What projects are you currently working on?
Like many creatives, I’ve been utilizing this downtime to direct my energy towards other areas of my practice. I really enjoy teaching, and recently, I was invited by Mingei International Museum to host a piñata workshop for their Family Sunday at Home. Although I prefer in-person teaching, It was a great opportunity to share my love for this craft and connect with others through a virtual setting.
Writing has been an ongoing experiment this year, a few months ago I purchased a 1950’s typewriter, so I try to spend a few hours a week practicing my typewriting skills by writing letters to friends or just reflections about this strange year. Today more than ever I value moments when I can be away from a screen and get lost in my imagination.
How has this pandemic affected or shifted your practice/changed your projects?
Artmaking is a huge part of my life, however, the pandemic delivered an opportunity to slow down, reflect, and experiment in other areas of interest. Early in the pandemic, I was invited to contribute a writing piece for Craft Desert, a local craft zine produced by artists Kerri Quick and Adam Manley. During the first three months of lockdown, It was comforting to write about the memories and landscapes that shaped my art practice. My essay Piñatas Breaking Barries was published this August and I’ve received a lot of great feedback from Craft Desert subscribers from all over the country. Other than that, I’ve been going with the flow and taking it easy. It hasn’t been an easy year for anyone, and it’s okay if you don’t have the energy or state of mind to produce new work. It doesn’t make you less valuable as a creative in my opinion.
What has your journey been like as an artist or creative person?
I’ve been incredibly fortunate these past five years to meet such wonderful and supportive people. Developing my practice hasn’t been easy and it has taken a lot of experimentation, persistence, and reflection, but so far I’m content with the outcome. I’m constantly challenging the definition of “what a Piñata is supposed to be” and it has kept me on a path of exploration.
Do you have any tips for up-and-coming, or rising artists/creatives?
I’m always very mindful of people’s time, energy, and willingness to lift my voice. This respect for others has brought a lot of opportunities which have contributed tremendously to the development of my art practice. I know many creatives might be introverts (I know I’m one!), but it’s really important to network, build relationships, and nurture them. Don’t be shy about attending arts & culture related events, it’s important to learn what’s going on in your community. Volunteer and be part of organizations that bring a positive impact on our communities. During my participation as a steering committee member for RALSD, I got to meet reporters, curators, professors, grant writers, and many artists. Many of them have become huge advocates and supporters of my practice. Most importantly, I got to build beautiful friendships with my RALSD cohort, which to this day I value with all my heart!