Episode #125: Roberto Benavidez

Paper Talk
Helen Hiebert Studio
Episode #125: Roberto Benavidez

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Roberto Benavidez is a sculptor specializing in the piñata form. Benavidez worked in metal-casting first, but then began longing for more accessible materials and switched to paper. His piñata forms play with the underlying themes of race and sin innate in the piñata, layered with his identity as a mixed-race queer artist, with a focus on impeccable craftsmanship. Benavidez’s sculptures have been featured in national, international and on-line publications, including ARTnews, Artsy, Atlas Obscura, hifructose.com, Hyperallergic, Politiken, The Guardian, The New York Times and This Is Colossal.  He has exhibited his work in numerous group and solo shows, and Benavidez’s Javelina Girl (Illuminated Piñata No. 14) was featured on the cover of The New York Times, Fine Arts & Exhibits section on October 23, 2022 .


We talk about how Benavidez started out in acting and then began creating bronze sculpture. His early works in bronze have a kinship to paper.


He eventually adopted paper as a medium (which was more accessible than bronze), using the piñata form to create sculpture. His early piñata forms were made in the form of sugar skulls.

We discussed his Piñatas of Earthly Delights, which are based on the fanciful creatures that roam Hieronymus Bosch’s painting, The Garden of Earthly Delights


Benavidez sculpts his piñatas in a unique way. We discuss how he creates forms with balloons, bristol board, armature wire, papier-mâché and crepe paper fringe. 


Watch Benavidez on Craft in America. (starts at 18:28).


Roberto Benavidez’s recommendations:


Visit Roberto Benavidez’es website to learn more about his work, and you can find him on Instagram too.


Music featuring excerpts of Makin’ Paper folk song by Peter Thomas. Listen to the full song and find out about other paper and book arts folk songs.

Gary A. Hanson did the sound editing for this episode. He practices and refines his skills in audio production while making his own podcast I’ll Have a Beer and Talk, a show about tech news, culture, weird animal stories and of course, beer. Gary is also the Deckle in Pulp & Deckle, a Portland-based community hand papermaking studio.


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