'Only Here' Explores Piñatas As Political Art
KPBS Midday Edition / April 8, 2019
San Diego artist Diana Benavídez makes piñatas in the shape of things like drones and over-sized bottles of pepper spray, packing her piñata sculptures with political messages instead of candy.
Speaker 1: 00:00 When Deanna Benevidez makes Pinatas, they aren't meant to be broken. Instead they get put on pedestals and become sculptures meant to provoke conversations. The San Diego artists makes pinatas and the shape of things like drones and oversized bottles of pepper spray packing her piÃ±ata sculptures with political messages instead of candy. On the newest episode of KPBS is only here podcast producer Kinsey Morlan has a story about the artist and how growing up on both sides of the border affected her life and her art. It is a change. It was for me, it was leaving, you know where I was living, my friends, a boyfriend, they had, I had like 20 cats down there, you know, having to leave everything and and and start all over again and you know, try to speak English now. I mean they spent so many years not speaking English down at the end Towanda that I was very insecure and anxious about starting again here.
Speaker 2: 00:59 Deanna and graduated high school and eventually got into Uc San Diego. She says her professors spent a lot of time teaching her how to think critically about art rather than how to actually make art. She struggled to find a style of art that clicked with her. Nothing she made felt right, but a car accident changed that
Speaker 1: 01:21 Deanna completely destroyed her mom's car, so she had to spend the summer working long hours to pay to help her mom get it fixed and all that work didn't leave her much time to do the things. Most women in their 20s dude, she was instead stuck at home or working. Her creativity actually grew from pure boredom. It was a very lonely, terrible summer. Somehow. I don't know how it came up, but I started making up and yet then I saw this and you know those tubes that where you have wrapping paper around the little inner tube and for some reason I was like, oh man. I mean I could make a toilet paper. Little pet died of this and then suddenly because it was so affordable to make them, I was making one everyday for like two weeks. And that's how my first series racing shoe, that one that came up because they're all objects.
Speaker 1: 02:15 That reminded me of like growing up with my grandfather. You know, he saved a lot of weird objects for me to play with. Like create little things like pill bottles, you know, those orange ones, you know, some things like that. Or like red lipstick. I remember back in the day like, and when I was growing up, I was think that only older women would wear red lipstick. I could associated with my mom, my aunts, you know, um, and a lot of analog objects that I have in the, in the vignette. The series also reminded me of growing up in Chula Vista and the Quanta,
Speaker 2: 02:52 the collection of [inaudible] she ended up with at the end of the summer, became her first ever body of artwork. She called it, raised in the wanna and showed it at an art show at her school and people dug him. She ended up selling five of her pen Jada's, one to a professor of hers and that teacher told her he expected to make some money off the pin, Yada. In the future. Once Deanna became a rich and famous artists, Penn Yada art is now Deanna's jam. She's building a name for herself to be coming more and more known and involved in the San Diego art scene. She works in series, so she builds a collection of related pin. Jada's meant to tackle big topics like feminism, more heartbreak, and her pin Yada drone project explores what it's like living next to a militarized border. When she shows the drone, she puts a phone inside of it and then streams the live video. It's taking to her opinion into drone project Facebook page. She also projects a video she captured at the border.
Speaker 1: 03:54 The drone plays as a an object to kickstart conversations. I like to always learn about people's experiences living here in San Diego, Tijuana. How are you affected by the proximity of the border and then people on the other side, how are they also ex affected? What are they there? There were experiences. I mean, some are very complicated. Some people forget that there's a border, you know, and you know, some people are so afraid. Even thinking about going down there and then that's also something that I'm curious about, but what I hope to accomplish with this project is to talk about all these complexities as tensions. It goes from talking from a physical border that divides land to other borders that divide people, culture, et cetera.
Speaker 2: 04:50 Art can take itself so seriously. Yeah. The topic of the border is serious and contentious, but Penn Jada's aren't. Back when Deanna's family was split between two countries back when she would sometimes cross the border and multiple times a day, one of the bright spots of her commute where the colorful Penn Jada's, the ceramic piggy banks and other kitschy art that people sell at the border. They were bits of color and silliness surrounded by the drab concrete and gray infrastructure that makes up the port of entry, if nothing else. Deanna says she makes Penn Yada Art to brighten up people's days, even if it's just for a second. Yeah, definitely. I see
Speaker 1: 05:31 a lot of joy. Yeah. First is like, people laugh. Then people will say something about their lives that relates to that object. And that's what I like, and that's why I enjoy from my work. And usually when they have work, I, I try not to talk about it much. What it means to me, what, what it represents. Um, because I like listening to stories to hear the full episode search for only here wherever you listen to your podcasts, you've been listening to KPBS mid day edition.