Finishing Strong: 2014 Graduate Margie Bach

When Margie Bach came to Armstrong at the age of 44, it wasn’t her first attempt at tackling a bachelor’s degree. In her 20s, she left college just a semester short of her degree. 

“I got married and had children,” Bach recalls. “Life took over.”

In May of 2009, Bach’s life began to change dramatically. For the past five years, she had been the primary caregiver to her ill mother. When her mother passed away and her oldest daughter graduated college, she felt that it was time to do something for herself. Bach had always had a passion for art, and held resentment towards the fact that she never pursued art school.

“Initially, I went to school for business and marketing because that was really what my parents wanted me to do,” says Bach. “This time around, I decided it was going to be all about me.”

In the fall of 2009, Bach enrolled as a fine arts student at Armstrong. Initially, her focus was painting, but that soon changed.

“The minute I took a ceramics class, it was over,” Bach says with a laugh. “It was like this lost medium. I just loved it.”

Having spent only three years in the medium, Bach has grown into one of the most talented sculptors that Armstrong has ever had. The consummation of all her growth as an artist can be witnessed in one of the pieces for her senior art show entitled, “Swallowing the Ocean in a Single Gulp: The Trappings of Time and Technology.”

The 150-pound sculpture features six arms that are simultaneously interacting with a laptop, cell phone, and iPod.

“The piece represents my struggle with technology as a nontraditional student,” explains Bach. “In a matter of a year, I went from knowing nothing about technology to being completely plugged in.”

Bach experienced this moment of clarity where she realized that she wasn’t giving anyone her undivided attention because she was so focused on technology. Likewise, her sculpture only has one hand that isn’t engaged in some sort of device. 

“Technology is great, but addictive, and it draws us in,” explains Bach.

Even deeper than the sculpture’s meaning at face value, the piece also chronicles Bach’s own journey at Armstrong. While working on the piece, Bach underwent a double hip replacement. She had her first surgery in December of 2012 and her second in February of 2013. As if recovering from a major surgery wasn’t hard enough, Bach learned that while she was in the hospital from her second surgery, the head had fallen off her sculpture, and took two arms with it.

“It was a wreck and I was ready to give up, but Professor John Jenson pushed me to keep going,” says Bach.

By May of 2013, Bach was back in the studio repairing her sculpture.

“I was learning to walk again, and at the same time I was sculpting her a new head and arms,” explains Bach. “I was fixing her while I was fixing myself.”

On March 7, 2014, Bach unveiled what was to become her masterpiece at the senior art exhibit in downtown Savannah. On May 10, Bach will graduate with her B.A. in Fine Arts. One month later, she will turn 50, and she doesn’t plan to stop anytime soon. After graduation, she plans to attend graduate school and establish a professional studio so that she can accept some of the commissioned offers she’s been receiving since her senior show.

“I feel like a professional artist now; that is what Armstrong gave me,” says Bach. “This has been a really great five years, and I have loved every minute of it.”