Tongue-in-cheek yet somber, this feminist installation of a garden of piñatas started with a prompt to the public:
If you were a piñata cracked open, what objects would fall out?
The objects in Cecil’s piñatas allude to women’s light-hearted pleasures to debilitating setbacks. The “piñata fillers” included in the first iteration of the installation were those most frequently submitted through the poll. They broadly relate to reproduction and meeting expectations, as well as things that bring us joy, help us cope, and give us grit.
Many of the fillers were contributions from individuals who mailed Cecil their birth control pill packs, IVF drugs, dolls, mementos, and more from across the country. Together, they lay in heaping piles resembling altars beneath the crepe paper-covered fruits and flowers that symbolize women’s bodies.
Similar to hitting open piñatas at celebrations, the work reminds us how aggression can be turned into entertainment, blurring the line between loving something and destroying it. The parallel to the way society treats women has stood out to Cecil since childhood.
“What are little girls made of? Generations grow up with the expectation that they be full of sugar and spice and everything nice. But Ashley Cecil’s piñatas, subversively playful metaphors for the female body, are instead filled with the genuine remnants of women’s lives – complex, challenging, and powerful. Teasing the viewer with a blend of gentle jest and biting satire, ‘Rupture’ breaks open the female body in an act of reclamation, encouraging women to define their own inner identities.”
– Julia Tatiana Bailey, PhD, Director of the Galerie Rudolfinum, Prague
“There’s a treasure trove of mixed messages through different symbols present in the “afterbirth” of the piñatas; there’s hope in the IVF treatments and birth control packs, there’s flowery items of girlhood— from when we were still innocent creatures—and there’s danger.”
– Katie Dillard, Director of Curatorial Affairs at the Albany Museum of Art
“When the piñatas are broken open, they expose their scar tissue (paper) of absorbing trauma while gushing out the weight of the object(ification)s that we carry and hold from society. It is a celebration and soul-crushing at the same time.”
– Nina Burbuto, Founder of assemble, professor at Carnegie Mellon University
Give your community visibility
Future institutions exhibiting the work can continue to utilize the poll so that their audiences can contribute to the piñata fillers. Reach out to inquire about purchasing Rupture or exhibiting the installation in 2024 and beyond.