April Rifenburgh


About the Artist

I grew up in a small town near Springfield Illinois, in a time and place where fun things to do included playing in the mud, drawing pictures, and taking walks. All of these things were free, and I always had the option to do them alone or with one of the family members that lived close-by. My mother is a second-generation German immigrant and her side of the family taught me how to utilize what you have and still accomplish the goal set. I cannot remember a time when I didn't have a drive to "make things" and be creative. I studied Fine Arts at Illinois State University and have a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. I then moved to Delaware and began a career in retail management. This move away from my family and half-way across the country was a difficult transition, and for the first time I experienced poverty and homeless ness due to my own choices. At the time, I was working and leading people who had given up on making their lives better and were content to stay stuck. This inspired me to do whatever I could to crawl out of this rut and prove to myself that I could do anything. I did. I decided that I needed to have a career where I could teach young adults that they are in charge of their own destiny and not to give up. I decided to be a high school art teacher. The creative process of art-making is what has taught me how to think of ways to get out of the silly situations that I sometimes find myself in. I now live in Abilene, Texas and I am teaching art at Abilene High School. Helping inspire students to be creative is one more thing that I can add to the list of things that fuel my flame for making art. I have been lucky enough to experience life from many angles. My art is influenced by the experiences I have had and the amazing people I've gotten to know. I plan on staying in Abilene and continuing to teach and help young people see their potential, not only in art, but in the bigger picture of "life" as well.

Artist Statement

My art is an intuitive expression of how I see things. I have been making art in some way most of my life. I have discovered that my work often times puts two opposing forces in the same piece of work with a surrealistic touch that makes it more interesting.

I enjoy working in various mediums and using off the wall materials. My sculpture work is usually done with organic materials that have a given timeframe of stability before they erode, melt, rot, or change in some natural way which then changes the way my work is experienced. With sculpture, I enjoy incorporating all the senses so that the work is "experienced" rather just "viewed."

My two-dimensional work continues to explore ideas of change, and various natural processes. Round shapes are incorporated into most of my work because they represent the cyclical nature of our lives. We come back to the things we know, no matter how much growth happens in between. Circular elements have been present in my work for over 10 years now.

The body of work I am currently pursuing is a reflection of images that deal with my experience in the meat processing industry. When my stomach begins to lurch at the thought of dead animals, I am reminded that this is how we as humans have survived. There is a beauty in the shapes and colors made with the different animals one can find at a small meat processing shop... until we associate those shapes and colors with dead animal flesh and then they suddenly become gross or disgusting. It is this type of "beautiful disgustingness" that I find intriguing and want to capture for an audience to contemplate as well.


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Abilene, Texas 79601

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Supported in part by:

Abilene Cultural Affairs Council

Dian Graves Owen Foundation

Dodge Jones Foundation

Robison Excelsior Foundation

Greathouse Foundation

Texas Commission on the Arts

Community Foundation of Abilene

United Way of Abilene

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