Visual Artist

DIANA BENAVíDEZ

Research Statement

As a child, Diana Benavidez was fascinated with the Mexican craft of Pinata making. She was intrigued with rituals performed with the piñata in the traditional setting of a birthday celebration. As a young teenager she had her first experience in crafting piñatas using the traditional paper mache process while working during a summer at a  Mexican “dulcería”,  a traditional type of candy store. From that point on, she became interested in discovering ways  to  playfully transform the meanings found within piñatas by incorporating novel materials, methods of production, and themes. Benavidez further displaces the traditional meaning of piñatas by placing them on pedestals as static objects intended to provoke thought, stripping away their traditional function as hanging objects to be destroyed. Any previously associated promises of reward (or candy) one might have with piñatas is denied. A common theme explored in her sculptures involves the absurd-like exaggeration of mass-produced objects, which plays off on both the viewers intimate knowledge of, and their shared relationship to taken-for-granted objects. These sculptures are also a reflection of the artist’s own hybrid identity as a Mexican-American growing up near the San Diego/Tijuana border where the language of commodification and the culture of conspicuous consumption transcends both sides of the border. Works have been exhibited in a variety of spaces that include UCSD's Adam D. Kamil Gallery and The Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla.