Piñatas: Global Origins & Historical References
Scholar Dr. Yong Chen and artists Roberto Benavidez and Justin Favela explore the complex evolution and dispersion of piñatas, theories of transmission, historic and modern cultural iterations, and their significance as a language for artistic expression. Streamed live on November, 12 2021.
About the Panelists:
Roberto Benavidez is is a figurative sculptor from South Texas, now based in Los Angeles, specializing in the piñata form. Benavidez plays with underlying themes of race, ephemerailty, beauty and sin, layered with his identity as a mixed-race queer artist, with a focus on impeccable craftsmanship. He has exhibited his work in numerous group and solo shows, including at Riverside Art Museum, Mesa Contemporary Art Museum and Palo Alto Art Center, to name a few. Currently one of Benavidez’s ‘Painting Piñatas’ is on display in all LA Metro buses under the ‘Through the Eyes of Artists’ poster series and another landscape is on view at LAX Terminal 1.5 in Craft in America’s LA Scenes exhibition.
Justin Favela is a contemporary artist based in Las Vegas, Nevada. He is known for large-scale installations and sculptures that manifest his interactions with American pop culture, authenticity, art history, institutional hierarchies, and the Latinx experience. His installations have been commissioned by museums including the Denver Art Museum in Colorado and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Arkansas. His major project, Puente Nuevo, was on view in Fort Worth, Texas, at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, in 2020. He is the recipient of the 2018 Alan Turing LGTBIQ Award for International Artist. Favela hosts two culture-oriented podcasts, “Latinos Who Lunch” and “The Art People Podcast.” He holds a BFA in fine art from UNLV.
Yong Chen is an author and professor who joined the Center for Asian and African Studies of El Colegio de México in 2009. His research focuses on contemporary Confucianism and China-Latin America cultural exchanges. His article theorizing and examining the potential origins of the piñata, its folklore, and precedent in Chinese cultural tradition, is one of the only published sources that exists on the history of these crafted objects.
The Craft in America Center is supported in part by a grant from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs. www.culturela.org
Additional support for the Craft in America Center is provided by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture. www.lacountyarts.org