Hamline News

Professor Alison Baker ‘Sculpting’ Her Own Path in The Art Field

baker-story


Since 2015, Hamline Fine Arts Professor of Sculpture Alison Baker has broken through stereotypes and crossed international borders in the art field.

In a male-dominated field like sculpture, it is often strange to see a female instructor, but Baker has explored ways to make sculpture more inclusive. She spoke on a panel at the National Conference on Contemporary Cast Iron Art and Practices in Birmingham, Alabama called "Pedagogies of Inclusivity: Iron is for Everybody” which tackled some of these issues women face in the field of sculpture.

One of the many challenges that women often encounter in sculpture is not having access to the right size equipment.

“Foundry doesn’t come in sizes smaller than a men’s medium, you have to make many modifications to outfit students,” said Baker.

Not only is inclusion in size a problem for sculpture students, but also possessing attitudes and beliefs needed to be accepted in this field.

Pouring molten metal into a mold“The women or fem-bodied people have to overcompensate. They have to act super macho, have to show they can lift the most, can work the hardest,” said Baker. “We are trying to reimagine what a new style of leadership looks like.”

Even though there is still a long way to go in regards to inclusivity in the art field, Baker says it is far better than it was even 5-10 years ago.

“I have friends that graduated just years before me that weren't allowed to pour bronze, and I had to fight myself to learn how to Tig weld,” said Baker.

Hamline students often don’t realize how rare it is to have a female professor.
“I’ve only ever had white men as instructors, my students don’t know that is it abnormal to have me, it makes me feel good that it is normal to them, it should be normal,” said Baker.

In addition to panels, Professor Baker has been busy this semester on course release focusing on showcasing her work not only across the country, but internationally.

Her work has featured most recently in Columbus, Ohio, Birmingham, Alabama, Bloomington, Indania, and Penn State University.

At the end of the month, Baker will use her Advancing Equity and Social Justice Grant from Hamline for her solo exhibition, “Working Class Folks Don’t Belong in Higher Ed” in Northeast Minneapolis.

Expanding beyond the borders of the United States, Baker’s work is being shown in Moscow, Russia and Gyeonggi-do, South Korea.

“Sending stuff overseas can be difficult, I often have to make them much smaller in order to be shipped,” she said.

At the Czong Institute for Contemporary Art in South Korea, Baker had a solo show and will do another group show and panel at the end of the month. While in Russia, Baker did a video performance piece at the International Bad Video Art Festival at Zverev Centre of Contemporary Art.

Alison Baker's statueTo get her sculptures into these shows takes work. There is usually an application or blind jury process but Baker says that she has been lucky enough to be curated into a lot of shows.

“I like having the direction of a curator, they tell me what they want and I send it out,” she said.

When Baker isn’t perfecting her own work or teaching classes, she provides guidance to students in the Hamline Sculpture Guild.

The Guild is an art club that welcomes anyone interested in sculpture. Most recently they constructed the backdrop for Tedx Talk at Hamline and are hosting the second annual St. Paul Art Crawl on Saturday, April 27. Student art from all different mediums will be on display and for sale, as with live music and an aluminum pour.

Click here to view Alison Baker’s professional site 

Hamline’s Sculpture Guild Instagram:
@Hu_sculptureguild

4/12/19

Written by Emma Larson