April Banks

April BanksArtist’s Statement

I am an LA based artist and creative strategist with deep ancestral roots in Virginia. My hybrid practice sits intentionally between image, space, and experience. Recent works from encaustic to steel sculpture time travel through historical archives and memories, questioning what we think we know of the past and how it informs our cultural systems and future identities.

My work is research and process oriented and I am a master of no medium, often learning new processes for a particular concept. My progression into public art is a natural evolution from architecture and my interest in how we experience space. For this reason, most of my projects include programming and activation that makes visible how we are permitted to exist in public. I believe that art is an amplifier, a truth teller and starts conversations that lead to change.

In 2021, I completed “A Resurrection in Four Stanzas” a public art sculpture in Santa Monica, CA, commemorating a former Black sea-side community erased by eminent domain. This work led to other place-based art commissions in Washington, DC, Sun Village, CA and San Luis Obispo, CA that examine our connection to nature, each other and the concepts of ownership.

I am the producer of Tea Afar, a nomadic storytelling experience, launched in 2016. Tea Afar was conceived as a salve—bringing us together across borders. We have hosted events in Los Angeles, Montreal, Sri Lanka and San Francisco that center first person stories and hospitality traditions from around the world.

Website: www.aprilbanks.com

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Public Art Commissions

“Eye Love You California” custom wind screens for bus shelters, San Bernardino County Transit Authority, 2023

Permanent façade art commemorating Jackie Robinson Park, Sun Village, CA 2023

“Elevate (Freedom is a Place)” temporary steel sculpture at the Nicholson Project, Washington, DC, 2022

“A Resurrection in Four Stanzas” a permanent sculpture for Belmar History + Art, Santa Monica, CA 2021

“Untitled” entry path temporary art signage, Cal Shakes Bruns Amphitheater, Orinda, CA, 2012


Solo Exhibitions

“La Vida del Chocolate” MUUA Lab, Museo de Universidad de Antioquia, Medellín, Colombia, 2013

“Free Chocolate” Installation, Photography and Video, Intersection for the Arts, San Francisco, CA, 2006


Selected Group Shows/Performances­

“Adornment | Artifact” group exhibition across Los Angeles with the Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA 2022

“Phoenix Rising” group exhibition on the 1992 LA Uprising, Korean Cultural Center, Los Angeles, CA 2022

“Winter Thaw” group exhibition, The Landing Gallery, Los Angeles, 2022

“ALI to LA” an homage to Muhammad Ali’s legacy in Los Angeles, Transformative Arts, Los Angeles, CA 2021

“Photo Flux: Unshuttering L.A.,” The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA 2021

“The Ambiguities of Blackness” group exhibition, Minnesota Street Project, San Francisco, CA, 2021

“Breaking Bread in LA,” group exhibition, OxyArts, Occidental College, Los Angeles, CA 2019

“COLLAPSE,” group exhibition, Transformative Arts, Los Angeles, CA 2019

Addis Foto Fest 2018, Photography Biennial, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 2018

ICONIC: Black Panther, 50 Artists Interpret 50 Years, Gregorio Escalante Gallery, Los Angeles, CA 2017

Dak’Art OFF Biennial, Saint-Louis, Senegal, 2016

“Manifest Justice” Arts for Amnesty pop-up group exhibition, Los Angeles, CA 2015

“The House on Mango Street” traveling group exhibition, National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago, IL 2015

“Orquesta de Arroz” public music session w/ rice & pots, el Mercado, La Otra Bienal de Arte, Bogotá, Colombia, 2013

“Rocks or Rice” The Raw Feed Project, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA, 2012

“West is More” City Market Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, 2012

“re-FABLE” two-person collaborative installation on ancestral DNA, SWARM Gallery, Oakland, CA, 2011

“Double Exposure” David Driskell Center, University of Maryland, College Park, 2011

“Learn to Play” Euphrat Museum of Art, DeAnza College, Cupertino, CA, 2010

“Provisions” Food and Social Justice, Nathan Cummings Foundation, NY, NY, 2010

“Double Exposure” Thorne-Sagendorph Gallery, Keene State College, New Hampshire, 2010

“Let’s Talk of a System” Intersection for the Arts 5M, San Francisco, CA, 2010

“100 Performances for the Hole: Take 2” SomArts Gallery, San Francisco, CA, 2010

“Double Exposure” Southeast Museum of Photography, Daytona Beach, FL, 2010

“Double Exposure” DePaul University Art Museum, Chicago, IL, 2009

“Female Focus” Group Photography Exhibition, June Steingart Gallery, Oakland, CA, 2009

“Mass Nausea : 2” Project Space: ProArts Gallery, Oakland, CA, 2009

“Double Exposure” Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco, CA, 2008

“Hopeless and Otherwise” Southern Exposure, San Francisco, CA, 2008

“To From Subject” Shedhalle Gallery, Zurich, Switzerland, 2008

“Close Calls” Headlands Center for the Arts, Sausalito, CA, 2008

“Blacks In & Out of the Box” California African American Museum, Los Angeles, CA, 2007

“Black and Blue” Soul Salon 10, Steele Life Gallery, Chicago, IL, 2007

Soul Salon 10 Recent Works, Pro Arts Gallery, Oakland, CA, 2006

“Oakland: East Side Stories” Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA, 2006

“Swap Meat” Soul Salon 10, Oakland, CA, 2006

“AfroFuturism” SPACES Gallery, Cleveland, OH, 2006

“Black Panther Rank and File” Soul Salon 10, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA, 2006

“Black Creativity” Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, IL, 2006

“AfroFuturism” Soap Factory, Minneapolis, MN, 2005

“Here and Now” de Saisset Museum, Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, CA, 2005

“Trouble Man” Soul Salon 10, African American Museum & Library of Oakland, Oakland, CA, 2005

“word: my definition is this” African American Historical & Cultural Society, San Francisco, CA, 2003



Getty Museum

City of Santa Monica

Private collections



Fellowship/Residency: Bogliasco Foundation, Bogliasco, Italy, 2022

Award: “On the Street” for “A Resurrection in Four Stanzas”, A+D Museum, Los Angeles, CA, 2021

Award: “Cultural Landscape” for “A Resurrection in Four Stanzas”, Santa Monica Conservancy, 2021

Grant: Dr. Doris Derby Award, DASHBOARD, Atlanta, GA, 2021

Residency: Sam Francis Gallery, Crossroads School, Santa Monica, CA 2021

Residency: WAAW Centre for Art and Design, Saint-Louis, Senegal, 2016

Residency: Culture Vultures, Sefrou, Morocco, 2016

Residency: Art Hub, Abu Dhabi, UAE, 2015

Residency: Sacatar Foundation, Itaparica, Brazil, 2013

Artist-in-Residence: MUUA Lab, Medellin, Colombia, 2013

Residency and Grant: Visions from the New California Award; 18th St. Art Center, Santa Monica, CA, 2009

Selected Artist for Museum of the African Diaspora’s Vanguard Artist Preview, San Francisco, CA, 2006

Honorable Mention Photo: “Tools of an Artist” Museum of Science & Industry, Chicago, IL, 2006


Art Consulting

Cultural Strategist with Gallagher & Assoc. for Destination Crenshaw outdoor museum, Los Angeles, CA, 2018 – present


Selected Conferences/Panels/Teaching

“Gestures of Belonging” flag and banner design workshop, Santa Monica College, Santa Monica, CA 2022

“Justice and Joy” Photo story workshops, Crossroads School, Santa Monica, CA 2021

“Santa Mosaic: Belmar Brings it Forward” Panel discussion, Santa Monica Conservancy, 2020

“Aspiring toward Social Justice and Reconciliation through the Arts” SMC Public Policy Institute, 2020

Worldbuilding Workshop, Belmar History + Art at Santa Monica High, Santa Monica, CA 2020

Presenter, Visiting Artist Portfolios, Museu de Arte Moderna da Bahia, Salvador Brazil, 2013

Photography Workshop with EC Reems Middle School and the Triangle Lab, Oakland, CA, 2012

Stop Motion Photography Workshop, Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy, San Francisco, CA, 2011

“Project Souarna” Photography Workshop for Refugee Youth, Amman, Jordan, 2009

Presenter, San Francisco International Chocolate Salon, San Francisco, CA,  2007, 2008

Visiting Artist, California State University Monterey Bay, Seaside, CA, 2007

Member of Soul Salon 10, Community Visual Arts Collective, Oakland, CA, 2005 – 2010

Arts Advisory Committee,  Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francsico, CA, 2003 – 2005

Lecture: “From Art to War”  Department of Design & Industry, San Francisco State University, 2003



“Afro-Nostalgia: Feeling Good in Contemporary Black Culture” Badia Ahad-Legardy, University of Illinois Press, 2021

“Visions from the New California” artist-in-residence catalog, pub. Alliance of Artists Communities, RI, 2010

“Exposure: No. 2” exhibition catalog, pub. Southern Exposure Gallery, San Francisco, CA, 2008

“Blacks In & Out of the Box” exhibition catalog, pub. CA African American Musuem, Los Angeles, CA, 2007

“BLACK & BLUE” exhibition catalog, pub. Soul Salon 10 Collective, 2007

Trouble Man : 14 Artists Interpret Marvin Gaye. pub. Soul Salon 10 Collective, 2005



Master of Science in Environmental Design, Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA, 1999

Bachelor of Architecture, Hampton University, Hampton, VA, 1996