April FelipeAthens, Ohio

Red Lodge Clay Center – Short-Term Resident (AIA) 2023

April Felipe was born in, Queens, New York.  The city was an amazing place to grow up, exposing her to a wide variety of characters, constant action and energy compacted into small spaces.  She received her B.F.A from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. April then worked for Greenwich House Pottery in New York City. In 2007 she enrolled in the ceramics graduate program at Ohio University, receiving her M.F.A in 2010.  She is currently living In Ohio working For  the Dairy Barn Arts Center and  working in her studio.

I grew up in a modest apartment in Queens, New York. I lived there with my sister and parents who both emigrated from the Caribbean to America in their youth. In that apartment, we did not have much privacy; I would seek out small places within it where I could go to be alone with my thoughts. Growing up, people begin to deal with the idea of identity, not just who we are but how we place ourselves within groups beyond our families. For me, this placing became a cultural question. As my parents were from countries outside of the U.S, I was connected to multiple cultural groups. However having grown up here in America and not fitting the visual stereotypes of my heritage, I never felt like I truly belonged to any of those cultures. I started to become aware that the way I presented my past could be used to validate my desired place within these different groups. Reflecting on my struggle to fit in amongst these different groups in my life caused me to question the way we construct personal history in service to our desire to belong. In my more recent work I consider the tale of The Ugly Duckling, a narrative that perpetuates if you do not visually belong though it may not be your fault you must find the “right” visual group to find ones true place. What happens when that ugly duckling is not a swan but simply a duck? My work comprises this narrative with the language of the childhood home; exploring the constructed nature of the past to reveal our desire for belonging and the complexity of such a task.