Editor’s note: ¡Viva Tijuana! is a multi-story series about the life and culture of San Diego’s modern neighbor to the south. More stories from the series can be found in links below.
Binational artist Paola Villaseñor (aka Panca) found her creative awakening on the streets of Tijuana.
“TJ gave this misfit a home and a visual mirror to myself,” she says.
Pulling up stakes from her home in Chula Vista at age 18, Panca moved to Tijuana to experience the gritty reality of a border city. Faced with live-action imagery of migration and deportation, she used art as a visual funnel for her personal experiences. Today, she creates murals, paintings and tattoos that represent the dichotomy and decay of humanity, using vibrant colors and distorted shapes that are simultaneously thought-provoking, inspiring and, at times, controversial.
Describing her work as visceral, feminine and symbolic, Panca invites viewers to think beyond the visual and examine their own social and political perceptions. In a conscious break from her well-known subject matter, her most recent project, a stunning 45-foot-high mural at Bread and Salt in Barrio Logan, focuses instead on love and peace in the community.
Follow Panca online at aypanca.com.