April Surgent’s fused and cameo-engraved glass panels have a story to tell, recalling glimpses of people and places like translucent fragments of memory. In late 2005, the artist spent four months traveling in Spain and Europe on a grant from the Spanish embassy in Australia. She cataloged her travels though writing, sketches, and photography, ultimately translating her documentation into a body of work for her 2006 solo debut at the Bullseye Gallery, “A Meandering Tale.”
“My work investigates the importance of the inherent link between person and place, says Surgent. “Places have the power to shape people’s perceptions of themselves and others, and to affect what and how we think, feel, see, remember and act…Having a natural bond to places, we are often understood and understand ourselves through them.”
Surgent’s work is a diary of sorts, logging a journey that began when she was just 13 years old. Traveling in Victoria, British Columbia, she glimpsed the workings of a hot glass studio. “Like many others before me, I was immediately seduced,” says Surgent.
She began glassblowing lessons at 14 and, during her junior year of high school, was an exchange student in Bornholm, Denmark. She studied glass production there and then earned a scholarship at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. She completed her degree with honors at Australia National University’s School of Art in Canberra where she studied with Jane Bruce, Deb Jones, and Richard Whiteley. In 2003, during her third year at ANU, Surgent received a scholarship to Pilchuck Glass School where she learned cold-working and traditional cameo-engraving techniques from Jiri Harcuba. “[Harcuba] has been one of the most influential people in my life,” notes Surgent. “Had I not taken his class, I would not be engraving glass to the extent that I am today.”
Surgent has worked with Bullseye Glass Co. and the Bullseye Gallery since she was a student at ANU. After completing her degree, she participated in an artist exchange with Bullseye where she created work for her debut exhibition at SOFA/Chicago 2005.