Teaching with Contemporary Art

Year Five of Art21 Educators: Lynn Grimes and Carol Barker

Earlier this month, we were excited to announce a new year of our Art21 Educators program. This week, we are again pleased to spotlight the first of this year’s selected educators. Hailing from the tranquil Southwestern desert, let’s meet Lynn Grimes and Carol Barker.

Year 5 Lynn and Carol

Lynn and Carol first met at Turquoise Trail Charter School, a progressive Santa Fe institution long committed to arts education, where Lynn is an art teacher and Carol is a librarian.

Lynn found Art21 when she visited a Susan Rothenberg exhibition at the nearby Georgia O’Keefe Museum. After viewing one of our Rothenberg films, she became interested in the personal perspective given to the artist. “I am fascinated by how artists follow so many different lines of inquiry,” she tells us.

Living off the grid in beautiful Peña Blanca, her love of nature and desire to bring it into the studio quickly led her to other Art21 artists like Kiki Smith, James Turrell, Mark Dion, Walton Ford, and Robert Adams.

As an interdisciplinary teacher, Lynn uses contemporary art to open her mind to innovative approaches to art making. She believes Art21 films can do the same for her students, teaching them to use curiosities in their environment, from toys to animals, as inspiration for their art.

“I was an artist working in a regular classroom first, and I integrated as much art as I could into the grade level curriculum,” she says. “Now I start with art and I work hard to integrate literacy, math, history, culture, and science.”

Like Lynn, Carol believes good art pushes us out of our comfort zones. But with field trips to Santa Fe’s galleries carrying a hefty price tag, she finds other ways to connect poetry, history, and environmental sustainability to contemporary art.

Art21’s educational materials and themes provide Carol with one alternative, and the picture books she shares with the school’s 465 students provide another. Together, they will allow her to teach children about the struggle toward human rights through personal narratives. “A simple illustration,” she says, “can be as defining as an historical novel in its meaning.”

With No Child Left Behind and standardized testing impacting what is taught as well as how, Lynn and Carol want to find new ways to teach with contemporary art and maintain a diverse school of critical thinkers.

Check back soon for our profile of Art21 Educators Becca Belleville and Eric Pugh.

This post was written by Joseph Klarl, Art21’s Editorial-Education Intern.