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Art21 Educators 2011-2012: Jeannine Bardo and Mary Curry

Last week, we featured Jethro Gillespie and James Rees from Utah. This week, in the fourth installment of Art21 Educators introductions, allow us to introduce Jeannine Bardo and Mary Curry. Brooklyn represents!

Jeannine Bardo and Mary Curry live in Brooklyn, NY, and teach at St. Ephrem School.  Jeannine has been the art teacher there for the last twelve years.  Her partner, Mary, has been teaching for fifteen years and has spent the past seven years working at St. Ephrem as a fourth grade teacher.  The two teachers often work together and complement each other in the classroom.  Jeannine describes Mary as being technologically savvy and says, “We both are very open to new experiences and we believe a good teacher is one who is always learning.” Mary notes that she learned about Art21 from Jeannine and enjoys collaborating with her “to provide enriched, multi-disciplinary opportunities for our students.”

Jeannine teaches 1st through 8th grades and in her application, she describes the unique atmosphere of the school and the opportunity to build effective relationships with students over the course of several years attending St. Ephrem.  She says the administration “is very supportive of the art program . . .[and] of any professional development teachers’ endeavor, especially if it is collaborative.”  She regularly uses Art21 films, Educators’ Guides, and website resources to introduce her students to contemporary art and to build cross-curricular projects.  Jeannine introduced students to Art21 artist Mark Dion to enhance one of Mary’s lessons on ecosystems, noting, “I used the video of his installation Neukom Vivarium to discuss our connection to the natural world, how art and science can be connected in Mark Dion’s artistic process.”

Jeanine also taught a unit that examined how artists create art in public contexts and across media by looking at the work and working methods of Richard Serra and William Kentridge. For Jeannine, contemporary art is:

. . . a reaction to our ever-changing world.  It can sometimes make sense out of the senseless, raise awareness, or foster understanding of our place in this world and challenge us to strive for change.  These are also the reasons I am drawn to it as an artist and teacher.  I believe art strikes a chord in all of us; it keeps the human spirit alive.

Jeannine’s video biography provides a glimpse into her classroom and student work, including image-filled sketchbooks that her students create on their own time.  She also introduces herself as an artist and triathlon athlete:



Mary Curry looks forward to her participation in Art21 Educators and says, “I love the opportunity to share art or any kind of humanities with my class and expand my students’ thinking.” In her application, Mary describes her ambitions for both her students and herself:

My goal for each year is always to excite the children about the possibilities of learning . . . I encourage them to use their minds creatively and analytically, to push beyond easy, quick thought and to seek a deeper understanding. Participating in this program would help me achieve my goals primarily by requiring of me the same open-mindedness, creativity, and willingness to explore that I ask of my children. By exposing myself to new experiences, I will be enriched, invigorated, and eager to return and share those experiences and new perspectives with my children.

In the past year, Mary has integrated art into her fourth grade curriculum, including her social studies, science, and literature classes. She hopes to expand her teaching practice by incorporating contemporary art on a regular basis.  She candidly states, “I generally don’t include contemporary art in my teaching because my educational background did not include much study of contemporary art and I have neither the confidence nor the understanding to bring it to my students.  I hope to remedy that through this program.”

In her video biography, Mary tells us about her life in New York, her experiences as a special education and history teacher, as well as her hopes for the future of education. In this clip, Mary gives us some insight into why she teaches and how it has changed over time:

We are excited to welcome Jeannine and Mary to Art21 Educators and look forward to hearing more about their collaborations, classrooms, and teaching experiences!

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