El Camino Abierto is a social collaborative project with thirteen children aged 10 and 11 from the primary school in the village Cacalote, state of Oaxaca, Mexico, developed as part of the artist in residence at Fundacion Casa Wabi from February 21 to March 27 2018.
The project twists and questions the meaning of piñata making, and aims to teach the children about the fluidity of sculpture making, collaborative practice, self esteem and freedom, and that art making is a process involving a lot of work and fun.
Piñata making has a long history in Mexico. Initially a piñata was a plain clay container decorated with colorful feathers. When the pot was broken with a stick or club, the treasures inside would fall to the feet of the idol (a God) as an offering. Now the clay pot has been replaced with a papier-mâché container decorated with colored paper and ribbons and filled with small toys and/or candy, and then broken as part of a ceremony or celebration, typically a birthday. Popular piñata shapes today include Batman, SpongeBob and Trump, and for Christmas the traditional pointed star associated with the Star of Bethlehem. For the most part, piñata designs are completely commercialized.
Therefore working on personalized piñatas is relevant. The children designed their own piñatas in relation to found object collections from nature, picked up during walks in and around Casa Wabi, mixed with personal collections of meaningful objects or photos brought from their homes.
Over the course of five sessions every child created their own piñata, all of which were then combined on a metal bow into a massive oceanfront collective sculpture: El Camino Abierto. After the opening ceremony the children took their piñatas home to decorate and/or fill with their natural and personal collections, and will break their piñatas on their next birthday.