North Central College - Naperville, IL

North Central College exhibits black and white photography by alumnus

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"Waterfall" by photographer Jon Balke ’69
"Waterfall" by photographer Jon Balke ’69

Silver-based black and white photographs by artist and North Central College alumnus Jon W. Balke will be on display Nov. 20 through Jan. 5 in an exhibit titled “In the Absence of Color.”

The exhibit is free and open to the public in the College’s Oesterle Library Gallery, 320 E. School St., Naperville. An artist reception will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 8, where guests can meet Balke and discuss his work. Complimentary refreshments will be served.

Balke, who now resides in the Chicago area, earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from North Central College in 1969 and went on to earn advanced degrees from Roosevelt University and Illinois State University in the areas of administration and supervision.

In his artist’s statement, Balke recalled the influence his time at North Central had on his passion for black and white photography. “I admit it. I see the world in black and white. I even dream in black and white. Perhaps, it is a throwback to my training in biology at a time when the emphasis was on form and function and the cellular and system levels.”

Balke has more than 45 years of experience photographing the environment. While he is mostly a self-taught photographer, he has also studied photography under renowned environmental photographers such as the legendary Ansel Adams. He uses a large format view camera to capture images of the environment and then develops prints of his photographs through the traditional gelatin silver process.

He has had prints on display in every major city in North America through juried exhibitions of the Photographic Society of America and has also received first-place awards in juried shows throughout the Chicago area. His prints are also on permanent display at Lockport Street Gallery in Plainfield, Ill., and Richard Ainsworth Art Gallery and Gallery 7 Fine Art Photography in Joliet, Ill.

Balke now spends most of his time photographing nature and teaching photography after years of serving as a public school administrator. In 2003, her retired from his position as assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction in Plainfield Community Consolidated School District 202 where a student gallery was named in his honor.

For gallery hours or to learn more about the exhibit, contact Nickole C. Lanham, North Central’s gallery director, at 630-637-5375 or

USG Corporation and Navistar, Inc. are underwriting sponsors of North Central College’s 2011-2012 Sesquicentennial Fine & Performing Arts Season. This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency. This exhibit is one of many ongoing programs at North Central College to enrich and broaden the cultural and academic outlook for the College and community. North Central offers a variety of venues accommodating a rich range of local and world-class events, performances and space needs for the public. For a comprehensive schedule of musical performances, theatrical and dance productions, art exhibits and lectures, visit or call the box office at 630-637-SHOW (7469).