Fusing the essence of something magical amidst the gritty and industrialized side streets of Wynwood, is what local street artist, Diana 'Didi' Contreras, does best. Her doe-eyed beauties stare keenly with hopeful gazes, generous curves, and sultry lips that suck you into a mystifying world that Didi visually brings to life.
The Peruvian born-Miami raised artist is leaving her mark on Miami's art scene. Spray cans are this 'ride or die' art maven's weapon of choice and every blank wall and street corner is waiting to be christened with feminine empowerment. Wynwood's street art culture is booming with exceptional talent and artists like Contreras, are becoming household names through their original showpieces.
After catching a glimpse of Didi painting one of her 'famous women' at the Wynwood Life Festival, I knew I had to share her story with my freshly squeezed fan club.
Didi is proof that women do run the world.
And don't even get me started on those mermaids.
FSF: Let me begin by saying, I'm a big fan. I love your work and each time I come across one of your pieces I fall in love. I literally stand there in complete awe. With the Wynwood neighborhood quickly emerging as an epicenter for art, is your work getting more and more recognition?
DC: Thank you so much for the compliments! I am so happy you enjoy my murals. My street art is for the public! My murals have gotten the most attention and recognition in Wynwood. It has opened the doors to show in several galleries such as The Brisky Gallery and Wyn317. With my art displayed in the Wynwood galleries and murals around the area, it makes it easier for people to recognize my work. Also, #Wynwood is great for people to discover my art in the area and share it with their friends.
FSF: There's a fairytale element to your art. What inspires you when you find yourself facing a blank canvas?
DC: A blank canvas is like a page in my journal. Reflecting on my feelings or just creating intuitively is how I begin. As a result, creating art provides a sense of healing. The reoccurring themes in my work are love, heartbreak, and beauty. The women I paint are in essence, self-portraits. I also use photos, fashion magazines, art books, and of course fairy tales for visual inspiration.
FSF: You were born in Peru, raised in Miami, and studied art in Florence. How has each stage of your life influenced your work?
DC: I was born in Peru but moved to Miami when I was five years old. Besides the beautiful culture of Peru, the biggest impact it has had on me is my drive. Doing what you love is not always an option in a third world country like Peru. I don’t take it for granted that I am able to do what I love in this great “Land of Opportunity”. Miami is where I’ve spent most of my life. The Hip Hop culture of music, dance, and art has given my art an urban flavor. Miami is such a sexy place. It’s always hot, and beautiful people are everywhere. The sexiness in my work is all Miami’s influence. Finally, studying in Florence brings the fairy tale aspect to my work. It is such a beautiful and passionate city. The balcony where Romeo wooed Juliet is in Italy. What could be more romantic than that! Florence brings out my romantic classical painting side.
FSF: Feminism is a big theme in your street art. What message do you want to get across in your paintings?
DC: Street art and the art scene in general are male dominated. I want my work to empower anyone male or female to do something that society doesn’t think you can. Painting large murals is extremely strenuous but I am driven to prove that girls can paint too! Accordingly, I paint large feminine characters that embrace their womanliness.
FSF: Your work has been seen all over the world. What has been the craziest request you've ever gotten?
DC: There was that one time I was asked to paint murals inside a swingers club.
FSF: I'm a sucker for mermaids and you're mermaids are so colorful and ethereal and I've seen a few swimming around Miami with your name on it. When did you start painting them?
DC: My love of mermaids began in elementary school. I painted them all the time and even won awards. When I got to high school my art teacher forbid me to draw mermaids or fairies because that was all I did. It wasn’t until a year later that Flash Studios commissioned me to paint “evil Mermaids” for their shop. I had forgotten how much I love painting them and now I can’t stop.
FSF: You name the legendary Basquiat, as one of your influences. How has he elevated your technique?
DC: Basquiat inspired me to take my arts to the streets. He started in the streets and ended up in the history books. His story gave me hope when I thought no one would care about my art. As far as technique, I love how he incorporates text and even crosses some words out. His work looks raw immediate expression. It is not clean or smooth but it’s beautiful. I’m still playing around with text and texture like Basquiat in my canvas work.
FSF: How has Miami embraced the artistic community and how does the city inspire you?
DC: I am so happy that Wynwood is flourishing. When I was growing up ,there wasn’t a big art scene in Miami. I think that Miami is a great place for emerging artists. It’s a new scene so you can be a part of shaping it and making Miami art history. New murals are going up in every neighborhood, in restaurants, stores, ships, etc. It is a fantastic time for artists! The city of Miami inspires me everyday by its natural beauty, warm weather, and colorful, spicy people.
To view and/or purchase Diana "Didi" Contreras' work, visit:
The Brisky Gallery http://www.briskygallery.com/
Street Art Dubai http://www.streetartdubai.ae/
Sea Fair Blink Group Shop
Bayfront Park South Dock next to the
Chopin Plaza • Miami, FL 33131
Chopin Plaza • Miami, FL 33131