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Art department undergoes changes

Inge Balch, professor of art at Baker University, will be retiring after the spring 2022 semester. Balch has been a professor at Baker for the last 34 years and in that time has been responsible for the development and operation of the school’s ceramics program. Her departure will mark a transition in the studio art department and its major requirements.

Balch graduated from Kansas University in 1986 with a Masters of Fine Art in ceramics. In spite of signing on as a lecturer at Kansas University, Balch agreed in 1988 to teach at Baker University for what was initially intended to be a single semester.

In front of the building’s largest kiln, Balch adjusts a larger ceramics piece.

“The semester became 34 years and I have enjoyed it very much,” Balch said. “Gonna miss those darn students.”

Balch describes that when she arrived at Baker, the existing art program was substantially different from what it looks like today. The art department moved around many times, with painting being located in the basement of the gym at one point.

This era marked what Balch refers to as the “heyday” of the ceramics department, with students sleeping overnight on the floors of Bennett Hall while working on projects.

Programs offered included textiles, printmaking and some metals. Since that time, however, Balch explains that the art program has become more of a luxury than a necessity in the school’s educational priorities. Eventually, Bennett Hall housed only Balch’s classes: ceramics and one section of Visual Language.

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