April White is an artist and arts worker who lives in St. John’s and makes watercolours and animations in her downtown studio. White received her BFA majoring in Visual Arts with special interest in printmaking, performance, and sculpture from Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador. After graduating, she was awarded with the Don Wright Scholarship through St. Michael’s Printshop as well as an NLAC grant to continue her art practice in St. John’s. White has worked at Eastern Edge Gallery as Assistant Director and as Art Marathon Festival Manager and is now Vice Chair of the Eastern Edge Board of Directors and Co-Chair of the St. Michael’s Printshop Board of Directors. White’s work examines uneventful moments in every day life that would normally be passed by and considers ways those moments can be metaphors for other aspects of life. Her work is currently showing at The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery until December 2016.
www.aprilmarylynn.com // @aprilmarylynn
1. When did you first realize you wanted to become an artist?
I knew I wanted to study art and have an artistic job from a fairly young age, but it wasn’t until later—in art school—that I realized that I wanted to pursue art itself as a career. I didn’t know it was possible to actually be an artist until my views were expanded when I was studying art in university.
2. What mediums do you work in and why?
Watercolour is my main medium of choice these days, as well as animation. I was originally drawn to watercolour when I was living away in a small town in Ontario and needed a medium that was portable and suitable for a very small studio set up. When I got to painting, I realized quickly that watercolour not only suited the subject matter I was working with, but also that I was tantalized by the quality of the colours and the nature of the process. Watercolour is a great medium for painting an image to look like a memory, with the delicate washes and subdued colours.
3. How do you get ideas for your artwork?
Inspiration for my work comes from every day life. I find moments in every day living—particularly mundane moments like cooking breakfast or watching TV—oddly beautiful and worth being elevated through art. There is so much about everyday life that goes unnoticed. I think it is important to take the time to examine moments that would normally be passed by because it might turn out that those moments are incredibly important.
4. What other artists influence your artwork?
I am in love with British artist Tracey Emin’s artwork. Through her work, she has turned her life into an open book and the projects she has done over the past twenty years are powerful and constantly teach me new ways to re-approach my own practice. Local St. John’s artists like Will Gill, Pam Hall, and Philippa Jones also influence me. They all have such diverse art practices and fresh takes on important ideas.
5. What are the “big” themes in your artwork?
The “big” themes in my artwork are also the titles of three Whitechapel: Documents of Contemporary Art books of mine: Time, The Everyday, and Memory.
6. What is the greatest challenge you face as an artist working in Nfld & Lab?
There are two main challenges of being an artist based in NL: one is money and the other is travel. It is difficult to be a full time artist and pay rent, especially when you are still trying to establish your practice. And travel is a challenge because—again to do with money—it is expensive to get off this Island. Seeing art in other cities is a great way to expand one’s knowledge of what is happening in contemporary art nationally and internationally. I need to see where I fit in to contemporary art outside of NL and it’s hard to do that with just the Internet.
7. What is the best thing about working as an artist in this province?
The St. John’s art community is incredibly supportive. It is number one, top notch, phenomenal. I came to St. John’s through the Don Wright Scholarship at St. Michael’s Printshop, and a yearlong placement as a gallery assistant at Eastern Edge Gallery. The support continued through my absolutely wonderful artist & arts worker friends, through ArtsNL and City of St. John’s grants, through a fantastic studio and studio mates, through The Rooms, and through work at the Anna Templeton Centre, and HOLD FAST contemporary arts festival.
8. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
That is a tough question. I’ll say that in the next ten years I see myself making more art, travelling, and pursuing further artistic education. Also, I really want a black lab and to become a really good banjoist and bass player.
9. If you werenʼt an artist, what would you be doing?
I cannot imagine not being an artist. However, when I’m not making art I am an arts worker. I want to do what I can to make other artists’ lives easier and more successful.
10. If you could have one wish granted, what would it be?
My first wish would be for 100 more wishes and then I would wish for more funding for artists, art organizations, and arts workers, and also equal pay for all genders and ethnicities. Then I would wish for more art education in the school system, and more funding for the teachers. Then I would wish for communal studio spaces in St. John’s, and cheaper flights, and the list could go on and on. Oh, and I’d wish for Shia LaBouef’s art collective to come to St. John’s and do a project here.