“As a curator, I opt for collaborative work, yet before receiving the Humanities Engage curriculum development grant, I had not had the chance to collaborate on digital curriculum design with an experienced educator.”
Before starting her Ph.D. in History of Art and Architecture (HAA), Rebecca Giordano had worked as a museum educator, co-founded an anti-racist and feminist curatorial collective, and started the gallery education program in the Black Studies Program at the University of Texas at Austin. She chose Pitt because of HAA’s Constellations model, which she sees as “a tool to push against the colonial inheritance of art history.” Her dissertation explores the relationship between Mexican muralism and African American artists in the 20th century.
Giordano was part of the 2020 cohort of Humanities Engage curricular development awardees. She partnered with a cohort of art historians including Ph.D. student Jacqueline Lombard and faculty mentors Dr. Gretchen Bender and Dr. Christopher Nygren to develop a module on the Image of the Black in Western Art (IOB). The IOB collection is considered to be the authoritative reference on representations of Blackness and Black people in Western Art from antiquity to the present. Her module for Dr. Bender’s undergraduate Museums, Societies, and Inclusion course challenged students “to think about the value and limitations of the IOB’s aims and forms as they consider what the project might look like if it reflected the values of the Black Lives Matter era.” She gained reciprocal peer-mentorship, faculty-graduate student mentorship, and digital pedagogical experience. As part of her module, students simulated real-world museum work that she designed to emphasize the reality of the data-heavy nature of curatorial practice.