Participants Can Suggest Objects for Artist Ashley Cecil to Include in Her Exhibition
People in Southwest Georgia and elsewhere have the rare opportunity to interact with an upcoming art exhibition at the Albany Museum of Art.
Pittsburgh, Pa., artist Ashley Cecil, whose exhibition Land That I Love will open in September, is conducting an online poll that will determine some of the art objects that will be used in her exhibition.
Part of Cecil’s exhibition will be a garden of piñatas of varying sizes that will serve as a metaphor for violence against women. The artist is asking poll participants to tell her what objects would best represent who they are and how they would feel if they were a piñata that had been cracked open. Those objects will be used to fill the piñatas, which will be shaped like peaches, orchids, and other fruits and flowers to symbolize the female body or reproductive system.
“We’ve had a good response already,” Cecil said of the poll, which has been active since late April and will continue into the summer. While the piñatas represent violence against women, the poll is “open to all,” she said, adding, “Because we’re all impacted by it in some way, everyone is invited to make suggestions.”
You can participate in the poll by clicking HERE.
AMA Director of Curatorial Affairs Katie Dillard said this is a unique opportunity for members of the public to be directly involved in the creative process of an art exhibition.
“These piñatas will be an integral part of telling her story in this exhibition,” Dillard said. “By participating in her piñata poll, we hope audiences will feel included in her creative process—especially if your suggestion makes it into the piñatas. We hope that audiences will consider the power of art and the impact artists can make with creative statements like these.”
The piñata garden will be located in a corner of the Haley Gallery. “I’m going to put piles of the objects under the broken piñatas so it looks as if the deed’s already been done and the contents are in a heaping pile underneath,” Cecil said.
The exhibition will be an extension of Cecil’s work in Violence in Eden, her recent exhibition at ZYNKA Gallery in Pittsburgh. “This was a show from 2021 that certainly is related,” the artist said. “The whole show was about metaphors between the way we treat women and the way we treat nature. Several of those pieces are going to be included in the body of work coming to Albany. And new artworks for Land That I Love build on that theme.”
Violence in Eden explored the parallels between the oppression of women and the domination of nature. In her artist statement for the exhibition, Cecil noted that both women and nature are religiously sanctioned as property, legislated against, denigrated into submission, and cast as villains, with their beauty monetized and their fertility systematically policed.
She said that two life-altering experiences opened her eyes to make the comparison—becoming a mother, and multiple collaborations she had with scientists after she moved to Pittsburgh in 2011. As she learned more about the alarming scientific data, it ignited her maternal instincts to protect her children and the fragile environment on which their futures depend.
“We’re so excited to bring Ashley’s exhibition Land That I Love to the Albany Museum of Art,” Dillard said. “Ashley’s art and her message resonated with me very early on in our discussions. I found a lot of common ground, intellectually, between us. Ashley’s work is immersed in ecofeminism, with evidence of multilayered political activism and intellectual critique present in her works. She brings together huge elements of feminism and environmentalism, often blurring the line between the two, and makes their significance inseparable.”
More than 50 people have participated in the piñata poll, with each person submitting three or more ideas. “There are several pretty consistent themes, and also some deeply touching contributions,” Cecil said.
One frequently nominated object category is dolls, which to her represent expectations. “Several people have submitted Barbies, but it also ranges from nails to broken hearts, candy, poems, and birth control,” she said.
The decision on which objects will be included will be made later this summer, but the artist is tabulating responses on a spreadsheet as they come in. One theme already appears to be a shoo-in, and it is one that has a multitude of object forms.
“Time is the most common theme,” Cecil said. “There will probably be watches or miniature hourglasses. You can interpret it a lot of ways: I’m running out of time; I’m under pressure with deadlines. Women feel the weight of all these things.”
And for those who would like to participate in Cecil’s piñata poll, there is still time to have their voices heard.
- Steve Hinton & Friends … From the Beginning is in the Haley, East, McCormack, and Hodges Galleries April 20-Aug 12, 2023.
- Escape Plan, Installation by Elinor Saragoussi is in the West Gallery.
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