It’s quite fitting that the new art exhibit at Sandhills Community College be named “Lasting Impressions” because it’s the farewell art show from Professor Denise Drum Baker who is retiring from teaching at Sandhills after a 25-year career.
The show at Hasting Gallery in the Boyd Library on campus opens with a reception on Tuesday, March 18 from 5:00 until 7:00 pm. The public is invited. Professor Baker’s exhibit will remain in the gallery until March 31.
“Lasting Impressions” consists of over 40 prints from the talented Visual Arts professor who says print making was always her first love. “Print making brings together so many art disciplines, starting with drawing,” Professor Baker says. “I’m not a patient person but I have to be patient with the process of print making.”
About half of the prints show the image of chairs, a reoccurring theme in Professor Baker’s artwork. “I like chairs as subject because of their relationship to the human form,” she points out. “The hand-me-down chairs at the college somehow make their way to the art department, their last stop. I like the uniqueness they give our studios.”
Professor Baker also uses shoes and dresses as well as pinecones and other elements of nature in her work. In fact, she designed the “Welcome to Southern Pines” banners with creative pinecone renderings that are currently on display on city streets.
“Lasting Impressions” is also a fitting name for the show because Professor Baker has had substantial influence on hundreds and hundreds of artists who got their start at Sandhills. The professor says she is immensely proud of the accomplishments of so many of her former students.
“I have loved being part of the Sandhills community. Administration, faculty, staff and employees have embraced my kooky, crazy ideas,” she says. “But I will miss the students most of all. When talking about my career, I always say, ‘I don’t teach; rather, I open minds for a living.’”
Professor Baker came to Sandhills as an Art Instructor in 1988, after beginning her career with a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts and a master’s degree in Art Education from Appalachian State University and eight years teaching experience at a middle school and high school.
At Sandhills, mostly Professor Baker has taught the students who are working on their two-year degree and then transfer on to a four-year college program. “This is such a good idea for students,” she says with enthusiasm. “First of all, starting at Sandhills is a wonderful idea economically. But beyond that, here you aren’t taught by graduate assistants in huge lecture halls. Each class, usually with no more than 30 or 40 students, is taught by an instructor with a master’s or doctorate degree. Sandhills’ art students have rich learning opportunities. I’m quite proud of the portfolios they accumulate before they leave here.”
Another lasting impression Professor Baker has made was being instrumental in the formation of the Sister City Relationship that Southern Pines has with Newry, Northern Ireland. The relationship is the result of Professor Baker’s 2006 participation in a faculty exchange program between her and a counterpart from Southern Regional College in Newry.
Professor Baker plans on enjoying more travel in retirement along with pursuing her artwork. She currently is very active in the Printmakers of North Carolina (PoNC) organization; she brought their show to campus earlier this year.
The Hastings Gallery is open Mondays through Thursdays from 8 am until 9 pm, Fridays until 5 pm, Saturdays from 8:30 am until 2:00 pm. Closed on Sundays.