On March 27, artist/art educator/community-arts activist Jeannine Bardo organized a pop-up show for neighborhood artists at Reich Paper, the storefront paper-supplier at 7513 Third Avenue. The exhibition was part of The Stand Project, which Bardo founded to “ignite the imaginations of local artists and community members by drawing them together in locations that hold unique value within Bay Ridge and the surrounding Brooklyn neighborhoods.” Artist John Avelluto spoke with her following the show (in which he also showed work).
What is your relation to Bay Ridge/southern Brooklyn?
I was born here, grew up here, raised my children here. I’m actually living in the same home that I grew up in.. that my family has been in for almost 100 years. So I have a deep connection to it.
You went to Brooklyn College as well…
I went to Brooklyn College to get my masters in art education and a masters in fine arts. I went to the School of Visual Arts for undergrad.
You’ve recently taken on a role as curator through The Stand Project, a large-scale art-curation project made up of pop-up exhibitions, most recently at Reich Paper. But you’re also an artist and art educator. Can you talk about those roles, and whether any of them takes precedence over another?
They all talk to each other. I went to SVA for illustration. I wasn’t happy as an illustrator. Then I had children and started teaching. When I finished with my teaching degree and went into the studio, a studio practice happened. I was less an illustrator and more of a fine artist. When I got into the studio I realized how happy that made me, but it also changed my practice as a teacher. Now I set up my classroom as though it was a studio, and the process itself is more important than the product…they both inform each other, and they are both a part of my practice now. I like the energy of people. I learn from them; they learn from me. I go back into my studio, and I probably do things differently just from what I’ve seen in my classroom. We are helping each other out.
Are you taking more from the community/classroom conceptually or physically/materially?
It’s both. When I write units, I’m inspired by a lot of things…and they are sitting in the back of my head. With materials…I’m much more about exploration now…that’s where I’m happiest, with the experimenting.
Is the experience of the classroom in your work intentional or happenstance?
Happenstance. The way I work, I take a lot in and I explode. I don’t have that “quiet” studio moment.
Is your curatorial practice integrated in the same way as teaching?
It’s all the same thing. I thought of it as an art project. I am inspired by artists that do things in their community. I like bringing people into it and making it accessible. I am really interested in people making connections. That’s how I see the [Stand] project. It’s growing.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I’m really enjoying my practice. The work that I do has a lot to do with our relation to the environment, how destructive we are but how beautiful we can be. I’m playing a lot, and I don’t know where it will take me.
When is the next time you will be exhibiting?
May 16 I am participating in the Bay Ridge Storefront Art Walk [which Avelluto cofounded], in the windows of Long’s Wines and Liquors.
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