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Leah Balsham

Biography to Display: 

1915 Born Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

EDUCATION

1940 BFA University of Chicago/School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

1947 MFA University of Chicago/School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

APPRENTICESHIPS AND RESIDENCIES

1956-1960 (summers) Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts, Helena, Montana

1968 Sabbatical Grant, Study,Japan studio of Fujiwara Yu, National Living Treasure of Japan, Bizen potter.

PRIMARY WORK EXPERIENCE

Federal Art Project (WPA)

Hull House, Chicago, Illinois

1944-1947 Professor, Art Department, Elmhurst College, Elmhurst, Illinois

1947-1983 Professor, Ceramics Department, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

 

Leah Balsham’s was primarily known for sculpture and individual container forms. She worked with slabs, and threw earthenware, stoneware, and porcelain on the wheel. Balsham’s firings ranged from low to high fire, in oxidation and reduction kiln environments.  Surface treatment included majolica (a white-based usually with brightly colored, low fire decoration), incised, wax resist, china painted, lusters, and decals. Balsham’s wood fired pots made in Japan had little or no glaze.

Leah Balsham’s sculpture was influenced by a fascination with Greek myths and vase painting, folk and primitive art, Biblical lore, Japanese prints, Mughal painting (a derivative of Persian miniature painting), patterned surfaces, and water ecology. Some sculptures evoked plant forms while others could be taken apart, giving them an intentional game-like quality.

Leah Balsham is also known for her print making, her work as an artist for the Federal Art Project (WPA), and as teacher of children at Hull House, a settlement house, in Chicago, Illinois.

Public Collections

Public Collections to Display: 

The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

Brauer Museum of Art, Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, Indiana

Illinois Women Artists Project, Bradley University, Peoria, Illinois

Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, Illinois

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York

Smithsonian American Art Museum, Renwick Gallery, Washington, D.C.

Bibliography

Bibliography to Display: 

Ganz, Cheryl, and Margaret Strobel, eds. Pots of Promise: Mexicans and Pottery at Hull House, 1920-40.  Chicago IL: University of Illinois Press, 2004.

 Rawston, Phillip. Ceramics. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1971.

 Thames, Jon. Illinois Clayworks.  DeKalb, IL: Art Department, Northern Illinois University, 1977.

 

CV or Resume: Click Here to Download
Source: The Forrest L. Merrill Collection, Dane Cloutier Archives

 

Typical Marks

Initials printed, or full name printed or in script.  Some pieces unsigned.

Birds
Date: 1958-1960
Form: Sculpture
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Hand Built
The Forrest L. Merrill Collection, Dane Cloutier Archives
The Forrest L. Merrill Collection, Dane Cloutier Archives
Assumption of Mayor Daley Into Heaven
Date: early 1970s
Form: Platter
Materials: Earthenware
Method: Hand Built
Surface Technique: Majolica/Mailocia
The Forrest L. Merrill Collection, Dane Cloutier Archives
The Forrest L. Merrill Collection, Dane Cloutier Archives
Sculpture
Date: 1982-1988
Form: Sculpture
Materials: Stoneware
Surface Technique: Terra Sigillata
The Forrest L. Merrill Collection, Dane Cloutier Archives
The Forrest L. Merrill Collection, Dane Cloutier Archives

Citation: "The Marks Project." Last modified November 23, 2017. http://www.themarksproject.org:443/marks/balsham