April Garcia creates virtual exhibit after COVID-19 caused in-person cancelation

By Ariana Arredondo, Images courtesy of April Garcia

April Garcia ChingonX Fire
April Garcia

A cat purred on a window sill as young April Garcia’s hand scribbled away at her paper. Slowly the cat’s image became one of Garcia’s first art pieces. 

As a kid, Garcia gravitated towards art and created plenty of DIY sewing projects and still life drawings. Later, at Austin Community College Garcia discovered her passion for soft sculpture. 

“I felt like I met my soulmate …  so I just kind of kept creating and exploring,” Garcia says.

Part of the ChingonX Fire Virtual Exhibit
Meeting the Tribe by Valérie Chaussonnet

Now Garcia, not only has her art featured in museums but has become a curator herself. 

In early June, an exhibit Garcia curated had its online opening. The exhibit is called ChingonX Fire after the Spanish slang word, “chingona, which means badass. Garcia said that after the exhibit’s original in-person opening was canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions she felt she had to continue virtually in honor of the exhibit’s message. 

Cantonese Cowgirl and Her Water Buffalo by Tsz Kam
Cantonese Cowgirl and Her Water Buffalo by Tsz Kam

“I think that the whole essence of this show is also why I’ve been like, ‘I can’t give up,’” she says. “I have to … represent, like what this exhibit means.”

After completing a two-year residency with the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center (MACC), Garcia was granted a slot for a solo exhibit. She then decided to feature 19 other women-identifying and non-gender specific artists alongside her. 

“I keep pushing through because that’s my only option,” she says. “You know when you start a project that you’ve never done before and you have 19 artists that you’re trying to honor … I have to move forward.”

Garcia said she was inspired to go in this direction after realizing the cultural center had never held a group show with women-identifying artists. She also noticed that this spring would mark the 10th anniversary of the “La Mujer” celebration at the center which was originally inspired by 17th-century feminist Sor Juana Inés de La Cruz. 

Garcia said she was also inspired after researching Sor Juana Ines De La Cruz. 

Graffrida by Niz
Graffrida by Niz

“She’s like, the patron saint of the LGBTQIA community, I really love her story. I think she’s really amazing. And so her story really led me down feminist theologies and … researching, ‘Okay, what does it mean to be feminist now?’” she says.  

Originally the exhibit was scheduled to open at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center in the spring. However, after the stay-at-home order Garcia said the future of the exhibit appeared uncertain. That’s when she decided to upload all the art to ChingonXFire.com and look for other options for a future in-person hanging of the show. 

“I’m just kind of trying to finish my project with dignity and pride,” she says. 

ChingonX Fire is currently slated to have an in-person exhibit sometime in the fall at Cement Loop, an art studio and creative space in Windsor Park. 

Garcia said that even though curating ChingonX Fire has been hard work she hopes to curate more shows in the future. 

“I feel like I’m on my path. I hope that there’s more of this in the future because I really love this. You know, nobody taught me how to do this,” she says. “I did it because I wanted to learn. And I wanted to go through the process and I wanted to evolve and grow as an artist.”


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