Painting strength and agency

RIO GRANDE — With the the Emancipation Celebration Weekend approaching at the Bob Evans Farm the weekend of Sept. 15 to 17, one full-time Ohio artist will be sharing what powerful and independent women of color look like to her.

April Sunami is a professional mixed media painting artist with a Master of Arts degree in Art History from Ohio University and her Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History from The Ohio State University. She and her husband have family in the Gallia area. Her work will be on display during the Emancipation Celebration Weekend Saturday in the Bob Evans Quilt Barn. She’s been a full-time artist 2012.

“I was first there maybe seven or so years ago,” said Sunami. “My uncle has been one of the organizers for a number of years. He asked if I wanted to exhibit some work there and show what I can do.”

Sunami is the niece of Emancipation Celebration Committee member Andrew Gilmore.

“I’m primarily a mixed media painter,” said Sunami. “I’ve done installation murals before. My main thing, I’ve done mixed media paintings for over a decade of women and hair or body coverings. My work for the last 10 years has more or less been an evolution of the same subject.”

“I think I do it for the love (of art) but I also think for me that the core of my work is the subject of what I (focus on),” said Sunami. “I’m presenting powerful, spiritual women as subjects and having them be the front and center of my work. I’m also very deliberate about being a cultural producer and I feel in some way I contribute to the conversation about women’s representation and representation of people of color in some ways. I work very hard to make certain the women I portray are not passive objects. They’re subjects with agency and power.”

Sunami has been featured in the Columbus Dispatch and been featured as part of dozens of shows across the state for her works. She has utilized acrylic and oil paints to create bodies clothes and backgrounds with her works while sometimes using different materials such as glass to create the hair of her subject. Sunami has said some of the women she has immortalized in her art are subjects she has met in real life while others have come from photographs she has collected during her art career.

Sunami’s art has been part of a nationally juried show called Visual Rhythms in Wilberforce. She was also a part of another national and curated show called Dare to be Heard. Last December, she was invited to do another show at the Southern Ohio Museum in Portsmouth.

Dean Wright can be reached 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.

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April Sunami Sunami Courtesy photo

One of April Sunami’s art pieces. of April Sunami’s art pieces. Courtesy photo

By Dean Wright