US

An exhibition of 50 piñatas

US
By US Desk
Fri, 11, 21

Now on view at Craft in America, a group exhibition re-envisions the party staple by connecting it with contemporary practices that extend the playful artform’s capacity for social and political commentary....

PICTORIAL

An exhibition of 50 piñatas

A ubiquitous decoration at birthdays and family celebrations, piñatas are conventionally associated with fun, festivity, and of course, their potential to split open and release candy and other treats. Now on view at Craft in America, a group exhibition re-envisions the party staple by connecting it with contemporary practices that extend the playful artform’s capacity for social and political commentary.

An exhibition of 50 piñatas

Piñatas: The High Art of Celebration features approximately 50 works from Mexico- and U.S.-based artists and collectives, who explore the evolution of traditional construction techniques and the object’s broad cultural significance that reaches beyond its Mexican heritage.

An exhibition of 50 piñatas

The fantastical creatures of Roberto Benavidez’s illuminated manuscript series, for example, encapsulate questions about race and sin. Other works include a massive COVID-19 vaccine bottle by Lisbeth Palacios, Diana Benavidez’s motorized cars that speak to issues at the San Diego/Tijuana border, and a swarm of tiny suspended monarchs by Isaias Rodriguez.

Some crocheted pasta

An exhibition of 50 piñatas

Normalynn Ablao swaps starch for fiber in her crocheted pantry staples. The California-based crafter shapes penne, coils of spaghetti, and stuffed tortellini, creating piles of yellow pasta from tightly looped yarn.

An exhibition of 50 piñatas

Whether crocheting individual macaroni or ricotta-and-sauce-filled lasagna, the textured designs have a compelling resemblance to their edible counterparts.

Monumental cardboard bridges float in the sky

An exhibition of 50 piñatas

Temporarily seen hovering above small European towns or balancing on a river in floating canoes are elaborate bridges designed to be constructed and demolished in a matter of days. The ongoing work of Olivier Grossetête, the cardboard-and-tape pieces are entirely hand-built by the French artist and local residents. Each ephemeral installation, which Grossetête refers to as “utopian building(s), temporary and useless,” appears for only a day or two before it’s taken down and the public is asked to stomp on and destroy the cardboard. “This is an integral part of the project,” the artist says in a statement. “This symbolic moment is fun.” While they’re on display, the architectural works are often tethered between hot air balloons and existing buildings, which makes them appear dream-like as they float above the urban landscape.

An exhibition of 50 piñatas

Grossetête has been utilizing the cheap, flexible material for more than 10 years because it’s easy to manipulate, allowing the installations to spring up and be removed relatively quickly. “Despite its appearance, it has quite extraordinary capacities and is very light. It doesn’t scare anyone, and it allows me to open my practice to the greatest number of people,” he says, explaining that it’s also emblematic of cultural signifiers. “It is the symbol of the false and of the appearance! I like to make this parallel between architecture, an instrument of power, and the false, the appearance.”

PaperBridge: a load-bearing arch of Paper sheets spans an English Creek

An exhibition of 50 piñatas

While it’s certainly not the longest, this weight-bearing structure is definitely one of the more interesting bridges we’ve come across. Unveiled earlier this month, PaperBridge is the latest site-specific installation by environmental artist Steve Messam.

An exhibition of 50 piñatas

It was constructed using 22,000 sheets of bright, red paper. And despite weighing in at over 4.2 tons, the free-standing structure doesn’t have a single screw, bolt or swab of glue holding it together.

An exhibition of 50 piñatas

On an aesthetic level, PaperBridge acts as focal point that creates a stark contrast between the bridge and the lush landscape.