While many us are hopefully winding down and relaxing through the holiday season, local artist April Sunami is remaining incredibly busy. Her mixed-media artwork is currently on display in four different exhibition spaces around Columbus, and she has three more shows that she’s working on displaying in the next few months.
We spoke recently with April to find out more about her background, why she feels that community is important for local artists, and what inspires her work.
Q: First, can you tell us a bit about your background as it relates to art (education, professional, etc)?
A: My earliest career ambition was to become an author-illustrator and in the first grade wrote and drew a series of stories revolving around a tough little girl named Sam. She had “Shirley Temple” curls and a leather jacket. All throughout primary school art was my favorite subject and I chose art for every single elective. I went to OSU to major in art and switched after falling in love with an art history class. I still took studio art classes, but graduated with an art history degree.
Since living in Columbus I’ve had the extraordinary opportunity to work with many amazing organizations and institutions. While still in college I worked at Keny Galleries in German Village. After graduating I interned at the Columbus Museum of Art before getting a job at the King Arts Complex and then becoming assistant director at the William H. Thomas Gallery. While working as an art administrator I always kept painting. My first exhibit was a group show at the William H. Thomas Gallery back in 2005. Since then I’ve gotten a masters’ degree and continue to paint and exhibit.
Q: How would you describe your artist style or describe to others the type of visual painting that you do?
A: I paint women with fanciful hair and/or body coverings (i.e. veil, hijab, burka). I try to combine the figurative with the abstract by focusing on a striking face and going wild with everything else. Recently I’ve been doing more mixed media work using everything from breakaway glass (from car accidents), potpourri and leftover acrylic skins, to paper beads, mirrors and cork.
Q: Where do you draw inspiration from?
A: God. It sounds trite, but it’s true for me: I make the strongest work when I forgo my plans and just follow what my subconscious says.
Q: What local arts organizations are you a member of and do you feel that belonging to local organizations is important as an individual artist?
A: I am a member of Creative Women of Color, Mother Artists at Work, Creative Arts of Women, and the Ohio Arts League. I completely believe that great works of art and great artists do not happen in isolation. The magic happens when artists create a community to share ideas and support each other artistically and personally.
I’ve been an artist my entire life, and I still have so much to learn. I’m incredibly fortunate to have great mentors who are always cheering me on and can also give me a good critique (shout outs to Ms. Bettye Stull, Talle Bamazi, Baba Shongo Obadina, Queen Brooks, Cyndi Bellarose, Stephanie Rond, Cathy Bell Smith and my in-laws Mari and John Sunami). I owe a lot of my growth (and continued growth) as an artist to all the support I get from my relationships through these organizations.
Q: Where can our readers find your work currently in exhibitions or coming up soon?
A: Currently my paintings can be found at Rays Living Room (Creative Arts of Women Small Works Show), Dames Bond Market Place (Mother Artists at Work), and Ohio Art League Thumb box Show. I also have a mixed media installation up until the beginning of January in the Ohio Theater ticket booth as apart of the CAP-UP project.
Coming in January I will exhibit at Grove City City Hall. In February I will be in a group show with Creative Women of Color at the Shot Tower Gallery at Fort Hayes. I will also have a solo show of miniatures at the Painted Lady Feminist Museum coming up in the near future.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
A: Columbus is awesome. I couldn’t imagine being able to raise children while pursuing art anywhere else right now. No doubt C-bus is the place for great eats but its also time we get some recognition for the amazing artistic community here.
More information can be found online at www.aprilsunami.com.
Artwork from top:
“Child, Things are going to get easier”, 2012, mixed media
“Ways to Speak w/o Speaking: Silence”, 2012, mixed media
“Alot on my mind”, 2012, mixed media