myrna balk, artist
etchings, woodcuts, and monoprints sculpture photographs fiber arts

Myrna Balk on stie in IndiaArtist Statement

As an artist and social worker, Myrna Balk’s work has been affected by her curiosity, and her wish to experiment with new materials, as well as her need to express her feelings about the world around her. Her art has been influenced by her commitment to human rights. A hallmark of her work has been the use of a variety of materials. She first began as an artist sculpting in steel. Part of this venture brought her to an invitational workshop with British sculptor Sir Anthony Caro. She then expanded her sculptural work by using other materials, such as clay and bamboo. Her sculptures were often allegorical and abstract. She also began creating installations for parks, ponds and public places. The installations explored the environment in which they were shown.

She began printmaking: etchings, monotypes and woodcuts. While in China in 1995, for the UN Women’s Meeting, she contacted Lu Fang, a Professor Emeritus from Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts in Hangzhou, China who tutored her in his woodcutting techniques.

A major feature of her work has been the intersection of her social work experience with her artistic talents. This is best illustrated by her experience in Nepal. As a social worker she began working with women who had been victims of sex trafficking. She then began to create art which both reflected their experiences and informed people about the exploitation of women. While Myrna’s art has dealt with such serious topics as sex trafficking, the demand factor in the exploitation of women, and the holocaust, her work can also at times be humorous and whimsical.


Myrna Balk grew up in University City, Missouri. She attended the University of Iowa where she majored in art and sociology. Myrna received her Master's Degree in Applied Social Sciences from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and later studied sculpture and printmaking at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

She has received numerous grants and awards for her bamboo sculpture, photography, and etchings, both locally and nationally. Some of her work was shown in Beijing in 1995 in conjunction with the 4th United Nations World Conference on Women. In 2001 she was invited to document, with photographs and etchings, the lives of Dalit women in a remote section of Nepal. Her etchings referencing international sex trafficking were shown at the United Nations Headquarters in New York in 2000. She is a member of the Brookline-based artist collaborative, Studios Without Walls. In addition to numerous local shows in Boston and Cambridge, she has exhibited in Cleveland, Glasgow, Beijing Budapest, and Nepal. Recently she was invited to the Harmony Artist Residency in Mumbai, India to create installations in black marble, sandstone and bamboo for the permanent collection of the Ambani Foundation.

Myrna has taught in many graduate schools of social work including St. Xavier’s College in Kathmandu, Nepal. She was awarded the Beverly Ross Fliegel Social Work Award for Policy and Change in 2003.

contact Myrna Balk for permission to reprint
June 5, 2008
Contact Myrna Balk
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