My mother and I patiently endured a five-year separation from my father, eagerly awaiting the moment when we would be reunited. For a significant portion of my life, I held the belief and shared with everyone that the day I arrived in New York from Honduras was probably the happiest day of my life. We even bought a piñata the day before we left and my mom had me hold it in my lap on the plane. A grand celebration awaited us at my grandmother's house in Corona, Queens.
However, it was only recently, when I visited my mother's house to collect photos for this project, that I realized the complete opposite was true. In those captured moments, I appeared frightened and teary-eyed. It was, in fact, the saddest moment up to that point in my life. My mother and I spoke about that day and she acknowledged we were both overwhelmed with nervousness. She made sure I went over my ABCs in English so I would be prepared for my new school, and my aunt would take us uniform shopping the day after our party.
Looking at those photos it became clear what I had left behind; my cousins, my house in Honduras, my school. I didn’t know the language and I didn’t have winter clothes yet, and there I was, breaking open this piñata in the middle of winter at what was supposed to be the happiest moment of the party.
Initially, for this photoshoot, I had envisioned capturing images at a flower shop in Queens, featuring a few piñatas and beautiful Ponte outfits. However, everything changed since I have come to realize the truth behind those old photographs. Given this revelation, we took a darker approach, centering the piñata as a focal point where my reality and fantasy of my experience collided. The piñata bursting open and Josmary ripping it apart represents the complexity of that moment because while the piñata being broken is traditionally seen as the epitome of childhood happiness, if the child is not truly happy, it is just a celebration of destruction.
This project allowed me to tie my lived experience to my imagined immigration story without compromising either truth.
Model / Stylist : Josmary @Jo.sstyle
Creative Directors : Estefany Lopez @EstefanyDaril & Stella Katz @GIDDY.NY
Photographer: Marc Levin @Marcig_