April Rifenburgh has been creating all her life. Originally from a small town near Springfield, Illinois, she cannot remember a time when she wasn’t making something. An artist member at the Center for Contemporary Arts since 2014, April has created her place in the Abilene art community and beyond. A high school art teacher by day and a candy maker by night, April is almost always creating!
As a teacher, April’s goal for her art students at Abilene High School is to learn how to be better human beings. Through creating and dealing with issues that arise while making art, she teaches her students the values of “loving others even if we don’t agree with them, to be kind even when it’s not popular, to stand up for themselves, and to share their ideas.”
While she doesn’t have “lessons” on those things, they talk about them as they present the projects they are working on.
“Through our conversations and lessons, I believe that both me and my students grow as artists and as humans.”
Her candy business, Rifenburgh Hand-Crafted Caramels, is a family-oriented business that she created after being away from home and missing a holiday staple from her childhood. She shares that growing up, her mother always made treats for her friends and neighbors around the holidays and the caramels were always her favorite. Her mom shared the caramel recipe with her and after some trial and error, she created her own recipe that she was happy with. After a full day of teaching, April spends time with her family, gets her kids to bed, then starts making caramels.
She said her favorite flavor she makes is her Maple Pecan because it “reminds me of February in Illinois and all the fun we had as kids watching the process of making maple syrup.”
For April, the caramels represent love and sharing and simplicity.
Her most recent body of work is her solo exhibition, opening at the end of January at the Center for Contemporary Arts. Explorations in Movement is April’s attempt to keep moving and making, even if it doesn’t always make sense.
She said, “Movement is key to not getting trapped in the mundane and monotonous.” She explained that this body of work was created during a time when she longed to be creative but did not physically have the time to thoroughly draw or paint specific things.
“I am thinking a lot about how creativity requires that you just keep working. Sometimes, you work because you’re lost and searching for your destination, and sometimes you work because you have a specific thing to communicate.”
The exhibit features 20 plus works, including mixed media, resin, and oil paint assemblages.
Explorations in Movement is on view in Gallery 4 from Jan. 27 through March 12 at the Center for Contemporary Arts.
Contributed By The Center for Contemporary Arts