With Fiberart International 2022 coming up we wanted to check on artists who participated in previous exhibitions, see what they are up to now and how participating in the exhibition impacted them. If you are a previous Fiberart International participant and would like to update the community on the happenings in your life, please contact Katie Bulova at email@example.com
Written by Katie Bulova
April Dauscha is a fiber artist currently living in Greenville, South Carolina. Her work is shrouded in her faith and her family history. She was a participant in Fiberart International 2016.
Her most recent pieces articulate the emotional thread of physical items passed from one generation to the next. For example, in one of her video works, a sash runs along April’s waist, exploring the connection between family lore and romance. Had her great-grandmother experienced the pull of the silk over her hips in the same way? One day, would April’s daughters burrow their faces in the scent of perfumes past in this same family remnant? If they did, how would they remember? Who would they remember?
Much of her work explores her Catholic faith and her family. A family suitcase establishes the parameters of her intent for a series of works named Mater Dolorosa. She asks first, what becomes a relic for the family? Then, how might relics be explored and contextualized by anyone and everyone? An old suitcase and its contents become an artist’s conquest where April explores, “what’s in the box?” April describes the action and video work created from these pieces as, Ancestral Interactions. With a wedding veil and a lifetime of collected dresses from a great-grandmother, she makes her own rituals in an attempt to feel connected to her ancestors.
Memory and preservation have been a theme for many of us this year as we come to terms with Covid. April defines 2020 as a year of change, opportunity, and resiliency. Pandemics forced day-to-day survival to the forefront. With her young children and working as a high school instructor at the Fine Arts Center, the year was a scramble. Her art practice became more restorative during the lockdown, focusing on mending, quilting, and teaching her daughters to sew. April admits that it was almost impossible to gain momentum in the conceptual production of her work, “being a mother and teacher, there wasn’t a lot of time and space to think and produce meaningful work during that time.”
After reflecting over the year of teaching during a pandemic, April ultimately felt relief when her students gathered, first staggered, then podded, then in entirety. She felt the classroom provided her students a haven away from the solitude to which they had been subjected over the past year; the classroom provided her students structure and a safe environment to express themselves. She became a sounding board and a cheerleader for students whose lives had become upended – providing them not only with support but with time and space to create, ask questions about the world around them, and explore their role within that world.
Moving to Greenville from Chicago five years ago, she has since successfully developed a fiber-based curriculum for a visual and performing arts high school that provides vocational skills for high school students seeking a career in the arts. In 2020, she was part of our national educational force who educated with every imaginable resource: online, social distanced, masked, and, most importantly, compassion, providing instruction and support well beyond the syllabus.
An enormous shift and opportunity for her practice evolved this year: As many artists understand, having a space to create must be prioritized.
Earlier this year, April moved into a studio away from academics and household. She has good-naturedly shared all the horrors that accompany an art practice installed in the center of her small home, including cats and beadwork and lace and vacuums. A move to a studio is April’s opportunity to focus on the potential of each memory and to elevate the articulation of her work – providing a space for not only the making of her fiber-based works but also a room to photograph and film her performances.
Her memories of FI 2016 are of supportive new friends and reconnections. It was an opportunity to build a national and international network of like-minded artists. It was a gathering of graduate school peers. And it was an experience that allowed April to meet artistic and emotional needs.
April plans on submitting to Fiberart International 2022.
Please see more of April’s works with the following links:
April Dauscha’s home page https://aprildauscha.com/home.html
Fine Art Center, Greenville where April leads the fiber art program: https://sites.google.com/greenvilleschools.us/fiberarts
Tiger Strikes Asteroid, Greenville, where April is Gallery Manager and has curated the exhibition BIG BODY PLAY. https://www.tigerstrikesasteroid.com/tagged/bigbodyplay