Aprille Nace: Building a Portfolio at SUNY CCC

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Aprille Nace has always had a passion for art.

Something about working with my hands made me feel at home and energized at the same time,” she recalls. “Over the years I spent time with documentary photography, stained glass, rustic furniture making, and batiking. I was living in the Adirondacks where I was working as an oral historian/archivist for Great Camp Sagamore and looking for something to do at night when I decided to take a ceramics class.”

And it’s no surprise that Aprille’s love for art spreads vast and wide. Originally from Buffalo, she says she first got a taste of the art world through her uncle, a painter at the New York School in New York City. A school trip to Albright-Knox Art Gallery would later pique her interest further. 

“I recognized the names of some of the painters from my uncle’s stories and I felt a connection [and] a familiarness with the paintings. I still remember vividly seeing Jackson Pollock’s work for the first time - the ordered disorder and use of color really had a strong impact on my concept of art.”

Aprille went on to earn a joint B.A. in English and Linguistics, an M.A. in American Studies, and a Master of Library and Information Science at the University at Buffalo. But the hustle and bustle of everyday life, she says, would eventually cause her passion for ceramics to fall to the wayside. 

It wouldn’t be for another twenty years that, while looking for a simple stress reliever, she found herself once again in a ceramics studio at SUNY CCC. 

 “I studied ceramics with Colleen McCall and Fred Herbst, both who pushed me in different ways to be better. Colleen gave me an excellent foundation to build from and Fred encouraged exploration and finding my own voice through independent studies.” 

Aprille recalls it wasn’t long before she was spending most of her time in the ceramics studio. Soon after, she began contemplating the idea of finally pursuing her passion for the craft. 

“I thought a lot about going back to school before I made a clear decision. It would mean leaving a job I loved and taking a significant pay cut, as well as taking on more debt with student loans. It was around this time I told Fred and Colleen that I wanted to apply for an MFA and they were both wonderfully supportive.” 

Aprille did plenty of research, looking into the requirements of obtaining her M.F.A., tailoring many of SUNY CCC’s course offerings to build a portfolio. 

“I took Ceramics I again--this time for credit. I also took Art History and Drawing. I worked on building my portfolio in Fred Herbst’s ceramics independent study.”

And while she wasn’t even sure whether or not she could get into a program, she says she was pleasantly surprised when she was accepted to the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Since her time at RIT, Aprille has gone on to teach her own students, including Ceramics I and II at Niagara County Community College. Currently she works teaching classes at Buffalo Arts Studio, as well as a librarian for the Art Conservation Program at Buffalo State College. 

“I [tell my students] to give yourself space to appreciate the work,” she says, when asked how she works to encourage students--especially those who may not always consider themselves to be “naturally” artistic. 

“I’m often asked what [the art] is for because people expect ceramics to have a function. If you can let go of the idea that art has to have a function and can simply be its own thing, in my experience, you will have a richer experience interacting with it.” 

Aprille’s art is currently on display at the Atrium Gallery on the SUNY CCC Spencer Hill Camp us. Her ceramics work, featured alongside paintings by artist Klara Zold, includes two different series: one based on the seasons and another involving the quality of light found at both sunrise and sunset. 

You can find more information on Aprille and her work on her website

The Fine Arts & Design A.S. program at SUNY CCC includes multiple art forms and styles, including ceramics, digital art, drawing, painting, and art history. Click here to review the program outline.