April Fitzpatrick, MS, AT
a native of Jackson, MS, April is a Tallahassee-based, self-taught artist who focuses on communal aspects of art and wellness through bold vibrant colors, African inspired abstract designs, organic forms, and pineapples. She credits her travel to Accra, Ghana as the start of her art exploration and self-discovery. In 2013, following the death of her grandmother, she began her journey with H.O.P.E.ful Kreations to spread hope through her creative pieces. She committed herself to art and the community, creating over 200 original art pieces, showcasing her work in several artisan/ community fundraisers and events, landing a feature in Boom Jackson Magazine and commissioning custom pieces for others all over the world.
More recently, she has examined her artistry within the scope of mental health. In 2017, she obtained her Masters of Science in Art Therapy from Florida State University. Throughout her season in grad school, she advocated for the lack of cultural sensitivity and awareness within the field and surrounding communities. She pushed for others to recognize the importance of culturally specific modalities of treatment by integrating black psychological perspectives, black art forms, black history, and culturally relevant methods of communicating and coping.
April recognizes and acknowledges the stigma associated with mental health in the black community, but she seeks to revisit and redefine resiliency through the lens of Ubuntu (which translates as “I am because WE are”) by using different vehicles of art. To bring more awareness about art therapy and its much needed presence in forgotten spaces, she has decided to launch an art initiative Pineapples with a Purpose. Pineapples with a Purpose uses art as therapy to guide youth and young adults through the cradle, core, and crown of the pineapple enabling us to work together to bring awareness to suppressed trauma, mold awareness into positive production, and apply it within community to impact mental health.
She finds balance in wearing several hats as she has served as an art therapy counselor intern in the local area, an art facilitator for the Palmer Munroe teen center, collaborated with the Traumatic Brain Injury Association of Tallahassee to facilitate art therapy workshops for survivors of TBI, and was recently appointed as a teaching artist for Arts4All Florida all while creating original pieces for homes, offices, and other spaces.
“The stroke of a brush, the kneading of clay, and the joining of found objects helped me to see hope within myself and life experiences. As a result, I was able to shift my thinking and reimagine my journey”, says April. Positive self talk is a great method toward healing, but when tragedy hits us, we often lose the ability to communicate our feelings. Through art, April was able to discover two personal symbols; the pineapple and hummingbird, which aided in her transitional phases of healing. A pineapple is no longer just a pineapple; it is a symbol of positive energy. A hummingbird is no longer just a hummingbird; it is a symbol of love. Art is limitless and accessible when we retrain our eyes to see through the lens of hope. Through her work, April aspires to help others feel positive, welcomed, and loved through their climb to the top.