After years of serving the Austin, TX community with beautiful, colorful piñatas for over a decade, Monica Lejarazu and her family were devasted to find their shop torn to the ground one morning. But community support helped lift this family of immigrants up again, so they can get back to do what they love.
Monica Lejarazu: [Spanish] Every piñata that we develop carries a piece of us. That type of art…we know it as ephemeral art. It’s an art that takes a lot of time…developing something so that in 5 or 10 minutes…It disappears.
Piñata. Austin, Texas
Monica Lejarazu: [Spanish]: Okay, this is a piñata for Día de los Muertos. It’s an Elvis, but it’s an Elvis “catrin.”
“Catrin” refers to the traditional Día de los Muertos style.
Grotto: The Lejarazu family has been creating piñatas and floats in Austin, Texas, for over 16 years. Their creations made of newspaper and tissue paper play a major role in the Latino community, from family parties to Day of the Dead celebrations.
Sergio Lejarazu: I work hard to make a pinata, but it’s made to be destroyed. Because every time you rebuild something that is destroyed, you make it better, faster and easier and you improve your techniques to make something.
Grotto: The Lejarazus pour hours of their lives into their creations. All so they can be destroyed in minutes. But all their years of work would never prepare them for the massive destruction to come.
In 2015, the Lejarazus arrived at their shop only to find it torn to the ground. Everything inside, their years of work and effort, was destroyed. Their landlord provided no notice, instead they wanted to rent the empty lot for a music festival after-party.
Monica: [Spanish] You arrive in this country with nothing. You arrive, and you know no one. Without knowing the language. And you work. You give your life. You give your time. You arrive here not taking anyone’s job. You arrive generating your own work…to not be a burden on someone. And you work and work and work to have a patrimony. So that your kids have an education. So that your kids have something. And a person arrives and in five minutes, they destroy 12 or 15 years of your work. It’s not just.
Grotto: After years of serving the Austin community with their creations, the Lejarazus were lifted up by that same community in the face of their loss. Neighbors and friends rallied to support the family.
Sergio: Jumpolin means so much right now, because it represents the fight of this family against a wave of discrimination, a wave of racism. A fight supporting what our culture is.
Grotto: The family knew what they had to do. Stand up, pick up the pieces, and rebuild better and stronger than before.
Monica: [Spanish] We must enjoy every moment. Every tomorrow. When the sun rises. When the stars appear. When the moon is out. Things that you forget when you alienate yourself working, working, working, you forget the feeling from a beautiful morning or a rainy dusk. And we learned that again to live and to be at ease with that.