Faculty Spotlight: Kathy Baum
Lighting her first blowtorch got Kathy Baum hooked on making art.
"I was always talented in drawing as a kid," she explained. "But forming something in your hands connects you to something deep and balancing."
Baum started teaching at College of DuPage in 1994 after finishing her master's in fine arts degree from Indiana University. Although she jokes that her alternative career as a nightclub singer might not have worked out too well, Baum clearly loves spending time with her students.
"I am too social to work alone in the studio for any length of time," she said. "I get way too excited showing students all of the cool things that can be done in metal. When a student is proud of what they have accomplished, especially since jewelry objects can be so different and magical, it's a fabulous moment! Why would I do anything else?"
While Baum is inspired by the way technology affects people, she also sees the importance of continuing such ancient crafts as working with metal, which involves fire and beating it with a hammer. She enjoys making "useless" objects out of expensive materials using traditional metalsmithing techniques. She is obsessed with the history of jewelry and adornment, and she continues to gain as much information as possible on gemstones and why humans have always worn jewelry.
It's that combination of her vast information base and hands-on skills that Baum uses to reach her students.
"I hope my students believe their own creativity is stronger than they thought possible," she said. "The studio environment is really responsible for that. Students become close and inspire each other. The best part is that they make things and can show them to their family and friends.
"There is nothing virtual about fabricating an object with your hands. It's compelling and fulfilling."
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