We had the good fortune of connecting with Diana Benavidez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Diana, what role has risk played in your life or career?
To be honest, I didn’t become comfortable with risk-taking until my mid-twenties. For a long time, my anxiety held me back from stepping out of my comfort zone. So I came up with an exercise that involved committing a whole year to accept every project, collaboration, or exhibit opportunity offered, regardless of how challenging they might seem. I promised myself I would give it a try! After a short period, I was impressed with myself because I was getting involved in things I had no previous experience with. Yet, I slowly became comfortable with challenging myself to try new things. This exercise brought a myriad of opportunities that subsequently had a significant impact on my professional development.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am a binational artist from our San Diego/Tijuana border region; my practice explores piñata-making as an expression and storytelling method. I build piñatas that reflect upon my experiences growing up along the Mexican-American border, identity, and binational culture. My work is known for introducing materials not commonly found in traditional piñatas, including media and technology. I’ve been incredibly fortunate these past six years to meet inspiring and supportive people. Developing my practice hasn’t been easy, and it has taken a lot of experimentation, persistence, and reflection. Still, so far, I’m content with the outcome. I’m continually finding ways to challenge the conventional use of piñatas. It has kept me on a path of exploration.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Start the day with a cup of coffee and a slice of quiche from Twiggs coffee in Park Blvd. Then head out for a walk through North Park to purchase music at Red Brontosaurus Records. For lunch, we would grab a few to-go Argentinian empanadas from Empanada Kitchen located in El Cajon Blvd, then head down to Balboa Park and have a chill picnic near the Botanical Gardens. Afterward, I would do a short tour of my favorite and lesser-known stories and sites of Balboa Park, which is parallel to what I learned through my participation with Parkeology and Save Starlight. Next up, head down to The Front Arte Cultura gallery in San Ysidro to check out their current art exhibition or music performance. Lastly, I would suggest grabbing drinks either at Turf Club located in Golden Hill or at my favorite dive bar, Live Wire, located in El Cajon Blvd.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I feel honored to admit that there’s a long list of people who deserve a shoutout for lifting my voice as an artist and nonprofit professional. However, at the top of the list, two people deserve a loud shoutout! Kate Clark, Lead artist and Director of Parkeology, and Steve Stopper, CEO and Founder of Save Starlight. Parkeology is a nomadic institution that excavates social histories of public space through interpretive art programming. Save Starlight is a grassroots nonprofit organization working to revitalize and repurpose Starlight Bowl in Balboa Park. I became inspired by the passion behind their projects and their ability to overcome challenges without hesitation. I feel fortunate to express that they continue to influence my life by supporting and encouraging me to strive for more!
Other: Parkeology.org and Savestarlight.org
Diana Cantu Jose Lopez Angel Soberanes