Piñata Exhibition Blends Tradition with Artistic Vision — & Yes, They’re Too Beautiful to Destroy

Lead Photo: Photo: Madison Metro, Craft in America
Photo: Madison Metro, Craft in America
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Contrary to popular belief, not all piñatas were made to be broken. Some of them should be viewed as works of art and not simply as a paper mache vessel for lollipops and gummy bears at a children’s birthday party.

The piñatas on display at the Craft in America Center in Los Angeles are the kind you wouldn’t want to swing at with a wooden stick. In the exhibit Piñatas: The High Art of Celebration, 15 artists from the United States and Mexico have handcrafted approximately 50 piñatas that many would consider contemporary sculptures.

“This exhibition touches on the role that [piñatas] play in modern material culture and how they are made to embody social commentary, along with the ways that artists address piñatas as conceptual and technical launching points for their vision,” the description of the exhibition reads at the Craft in America website.

One of the artists exhibiting his piñatas is figurative sculptor Roberto Benavidez, who created a series of piñatas that look like they were designed from the pages of a children’s fantasy book. Reminiscent to the alebrijes in the animated film Coco, Benavidez’s hybrid paper creatures are beautiful to behold.

Another artist, Portland-based Ana Serrano, uses cardboard and paper to create tiny figures of some of history’s most influential Latine celebrities. Serrano’s Piñatitas series features designs resembling the likes of Walter Mercado, Juan Gabriel, Maria del Barrio, El Chapulin Colorado, Gloria Trevi and Cantinflas.

Other artists whose piñatas are part of the exhibition include Lisbeth Palacios, Josue Ramirez, Isaias Rodriguez, Francisco Palomares, and Amorette Crespo; the latter who began making piñatas in 2017 when her daughter requested a Selena Quintanilla piñata for her birthday.

Piñatas: The High Art of Celebration can be seen in person at the Craft in America Center through December 4, 2021. An online exhibition is also available.