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JAN BAKER, a Professor at the Rhode Island School of Design (since 1980) studied Printmaking and Aesthetic Studies at the University of California at Santa Cruz and received her Master’s Degree from Yale University in Graphic Design. In addition to her teaching, currently she is the Andrew Mellon Fellow in the Costume and Textile Department at the RISD Museum.
Encouraging an interdisciplinary approach, Jan teaches book arts, with hands-on experimentation in letterpress printing, papermaking, bookbinding, visual poetry and Asian book arts. The exhibition ‘Bookmark’ celebrating 30 years teaching book arts at RISD, featured 350 of her students books, which she recently donated to the artists’ book collection in the RISD Library, to inspire future students and faculty.
An enthusiastic educator, Jan has taught ‘Innovative Book Structures’ at Haystack, ‘Unexpected Bindings’ at PBI and this summer, she will teach the workshop ‘Wild Books’ at Shakerag, in Sewanee, Tennessee.
Baker is an avid traveler. Jan taught book design at the National Institute of Design in India as a Fulbright Scholar. She was invited to lead a textile workshop in Vietnam for UNESCO. Living in Italy for two years, she guided interdisciplinary honor students, as Chief Critic of the RISD European Honors Program.
A passionate collector of old handwritten books in non-latin scripts, peaks Jan’s desire to explore flea markets around the world. On her most recent academic sabbatical she had the opportunity to discover the Rosetta stone in London, Bodoni’s Manuale Tipografico in Parma, Arabic manuscripts in Doha, palm leaf books in Bhubaneswar, scholar’s stelae at the Temple of Literature in Hanoi, and Suminagashi in Echizen. With each journey that she ventures into, Jan also produces innovative travel journals (packed with drawings, jottings, visual lecture notes, photographs, tickets and ephemera) which become an ongoing inspiration for her art and book works.