I use the body to investigate the ideas of morality, mourning, mortification and most recently of motherhood. I look towards costume history, traditional Catholic rituals and themes in 19th century literature and photography to feed my obsession with transformation, reconciliation and communication through dress.
My making focuses on feminine objects and materials. Lace, veils, undergarments and hair adornment speak not only of womanhood, but also of the duality of human nature. Lace speaks of purity and sexuality, it reveals and conceals, it is humble, yet gluttonous in its ornamental overindulgence; lace is the ultimate dichotomy. I use it as a potent symbol to represent the duality of body and soul, right and wrong, good and evil. Historically, neglected, disheveled and unbound hair was a sign of mourning and penance, a physical representation of one’s sin and sorrow. In my work, hair comes to represent an uncomfortable binding of one’s self to one’s alter ego, while helping to serve as an act of penance and mortification.
Visit her website www.aprildauscha.com for more of her works and check out the interview below.
Whom do you look up to?
There is not one person in particular that I look up to, rather I find a lot of inspiration in the Victorian era. Nineteenth century writers like Nathaiel Hawthorne, Oscar Wilde and Robert Louis Stevenson have and continue to influence my work. I love ritual of 19th century dress and customs, mourning practices especially. 19th century photography is another major source of inspiration right now – especially those lenses that capture the honesty of motherhood. Images of mothers mourning the loss of their children, mothers nursing their babes through the act of breastfeeding or mothers holding their wide-eyed babies while hidden under yards of draped floral upholstery.
Are there any personalities that have contributed to your successful career path?
My graduate school committee without a doubt. Their voices still taunt me in my studio to this day. And for that I am thankful. (Sonya Clark, Susan Iverson and Jack Wax.)
What was your favourite project and why?
From my completed works, I think I still favor my video work. I like the performative aspect of the work. The ritual and the intimacy. I enjoy how raw it is, simple documentation.
How do you define creativity?
To value tradition, while breaking its rules.
How did your art career start?
I started as a fashion design student and spent a few years in the design industry after graduation before realizing that it wasn’t exactly the right fit. I decided to go to graduate school for Fibers, as I had always been drawn to textiles and fiber techniques. Working on the body however, has never lost its appeal.
What was the biggest challenge you’ve faced during your career as an artist?
I think I’m living my biggest challenge right now. I wear many hats, I am an artist, an administrator, a teacher of high schoolers, a wife to a PhD student, a step mother to two and most importantly, a Mother to a one-year-old. I struggle to find time to balance these many roles and continue the momentum of making in my studio. However, I am so thankful that most every role I play, offers an abundance of inspiration for my studio practice.
Do you have a favourite quote that describes what you truly believe in?
“Find what you love and let it kill you. Let it drain you of your all. Let it cling onto your back and weigh you down into eventual nothingness. Let it kill you and let it devour your remains. For all things will kill you, both slowly and fastly, but it’s much better to be killed by a lover.” Charles Bukowski
If you had one advice for someone seeking to live a creative life, what would you tell him?
Keep creating. No matter what, brilliant or irrelevant, just keep your hands busy.
What do you know now that you wish you knew at 21?
Time is precious. Don’t waste it.
Is there anything for which you would be ready to give up your passion of art?
If I said yes, it would be a lie. I’d always find a way to make.
All images © April Dauscha