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Avon Art Director Honored
Jacqueline Keller

Avon Art Director Honored

On Sunday, April 28, Avon Old Farms School’s Visual Arts Department Chairperson Cristina Pinton was honored by the Connecticut Art Education Association with the Outstanding Connecticut Art Educator Award.

Early on in her career, Pinton focused on at-risk populations, working with the Department of Corrections and alternative settings. After earning her MSAE in Boston, she began teaching at a charter school in Hyde Park and the Boston Arts Academy.

“I knew both sides of the coin—teaching in the most challenging of circumstances with both economic and behavioral challenges, as well as teaching some of the most artistically talented young folks. In Italy, I created and taught studio classes to college students in a study abroad program, focusing on hands-on, on-site, truly experiential, and experimental learning.”

Cristina Pinton Photograph

While Pinton grew up in Canton, she moved to Italy in 2004 eager to soak up the culture that is the origin of her family. Lured by the food, art, language, and history, she remained there until 2011. Reluctant to move, she and her husband soon convinced themselves that their future was in the United States.

“Curiously, that mysterious and gorgeous school that lay hidden in the woods, the one I grew up wondering about, called out my name,” Pinton shared in her faculty bio. “In 2012, I joined the AOF team, our two children were born soon after, and our roots on campus strengthened.”

During her time at Avon Old Farms, Pinton has nurtured a new generation of artists and worked to create spaces for them. Most recently, as part of the Inspiring Boys, Building Men capital campaign, she worked with Headmaster LaRocque to create the Ordway Art Gallery, housed in the hub of campus in the space connecting the Brown Student Center and the Beatson Performing Arts Center. Completed in May 2017, the gallery provides a home for Avon’s nationally recognized visual arts program which nurtures creative thinking, risk-taking, and self-expression. Key features of the gallery include crafted oak cabinets for displaying three-dimensional art, a state-of-the-art gallery hanging and spotlight system to showcase art, and a special display of historical tools and early images of the school along with a narrative of Theodate Pope Riddle.

The CÆA Outstanding Educator Awards recognize visual arts educators for demonstrating excellence in the classroom, active participation and leadership at the local, state, and/or national level, publications and/or exhibits, advocacy for the arts, and other art education related accomplishments. Pinton will be honored with The Outstanding Art Educator Award which is given to an active CÆA/NAEA member who has made significant contributions to art education on the state level.

“Ms. Pinton shares with students, fellow art educators, and advocates the importance of art education,” commented Pengyu Si (SP) ’19, who wrote a letter of recommendation to the CÆA committee on Pinton’s behalf. “Locally, she takes on every single opportunity to advertise our art program to encourage potential financial support for the establishment of more convenient and comfortable art facilities and the creation of more art-related opportunities. Embracing the modern view on gender and identity, she, by motivating students to explore their creative selves, actively fights against the stereotypical conception of masculinity that she deems detrimental to the psychological development of young men. And she, an awesome artist herself, just knows what she does. I’m very happy for Ms. P because I see every day how much she cares about art education and our art program … I believe that she needs to be recognized for all the awesome work she has done.”

Participation in the CÆA awards showcases Connecticut art educators and those contributing to art education in our state by recognizing and celebrating excellence in the state's art educators, increasing statewide awareness of the importance of quality art education for all learners, and promoting standards for quality art education and their achievement. For Cristina Pinton, her work in and out of the studio goes beyond teaching boys—it’s about creating a space for them to find themselves.

“When I was in high school, I found solace in the art studio,” shared Pinton. “It became my safe-house, my inspiration, my source of strength and courage that would fuel my way through adolescence. I hope, that in the physical space or within the hours of class or open studio, students learn that art is an opportunity to experiment, express, investigate the world, their own ideas and forming identities. I want the art studio, classes, and workshops to be inspiring and challenging for these young men who need to know that they have the potential to be powerful visual artists with powerful messages.”

Some of Pinton’s star students agree that she has accomplished this goal.

“As a kid in middle school, I did not stand out as a person who had superb artistic abilities, shared Bon Bhakdibhumi ’19. “In the community that I was in, the aesthetic standards were very narrow, and most of my friends were better than me at meeting those requirements when doing art. I was afraid that if I created something out of the restricted sets of rules, my work would be seen as 'ugly' and embarrassing. I was nervous about stepping outside the given frame; I was frightened to explore and experiment. However, having enrolled in Ms. Pinton's art classes for the past three years, my perspective has changed. Ms. Pinton has instilled in me the idea that doing art is more than just fulfilling a certain standard or to impress a group of people with a particular aesthetic sensibility. It is more about self-reflection and self-expression. Every art piece is a step toward understanding a person's own artistic side. In class, Ms. P always gives students very helpful and creative advice while allowing each student to grow and flourish independently. Most importantly, she teaches art with a non-judgemental pair of eyes and a compassionate, understanding heart. Ms. P is definitely an awesome art teacher.”

For more information on the CÆA Outstanding Art Educator Awards, visit www.ctarteducation.net.