Quantifying Art: Reflections on Recognition

I have published about a dozen articles in academic journals and blogs about my work as an educator and a librarian. I don’t really count. Please don’t get me wrong. I am incredibly honored and humbled to have my thoughts and ideas enmeshed in the scholarship that I find so captivating, but I like for them to remain in the cloud. Quantifying them seems crass.

I have had many email threads and phone calls with editors to pitch ideas and/or discuss assignments. On a few occasions, authors have reached out to me for comments to be used in their writing (which is an amazing feeling in its own right.) A few months ago, I got a comment not on something I have written, but instead on artwork I created.


Yes, me. This the text of the email:

Hi Ciro Scardina.

Thank you for your blog and beautiful graphic works.

I'm a pedagogue/teacher I Aarhus, Denmark and I'm also writing for my local union.

Currently we are working on articles on "the pedagogue in arts" and trust me there is not a lot to be found on that subject. But then my friend and art historian Cathrine Esmann found your wonderful "Meditations of a Pedagogue.”

Can I please bring the picture in my article? And can you maybe write me a few words about your thoughts on the picture?

Hopeful wishes,

Majken Bentzen

I woke to this email on a Sunday and even before coffee, I was good. I still had the coffee.

Today, that joy was brought full circle when I opened my email at work and found that the article had been published. Following is the translation of the section:

"Contemporary art with pedagogues are rare, but Esmann managed to find Ciro Scardina's "Meditations of a pedagogue!!" The picture quotes Roy Lichtenstein’s comic-inspired pop-art style. When looking closer at the pedagogue’s violent meditation, it turns out to be of the creative kind. Instead of bullets, she shoots with pencils. Maybe she writes, maybe she draws, either way she most certainly lets out a stream.

Scardina is a librarian, teacher, writer and artist, working in NY. He is dedicated to social justice, advocates for public schools and a firm believer that knowledge is power. Read more on his homepage.

Cathrine Esmann, Art historian and Senior Communication Strategist at LEGO: "In Scardina's picture, we finally meet the pedagogue in her own right in an aggressive, expressionist, dynamic image of the pedagogue as a freedom-fighter who uses the strongest weapon - not the sword but the pen - in the struggle to free the children's creativity and potential."

Århus Pædagoger, Marts 2019

Århus Pædagoger, Marts 2019

Reading the author, Majken Bentzen’s words, and those of Art Historian Cathrine Esmann, I am humbled in a way that feels differently yet the same as comments I have read about my writing.

Writing and graphic arts are both products of my creative voice and touch and emanate from the same part of my soul, yet this artistic layer of my soul is one that is new to criticism and consideration. Whereas my confidence in my writing exists without the recognition from the public (although the recognition is superb), I cannot say that my artwork does-yet. Their appreciation of my work bought stock in my confidence as an artist.

Who knows, maybe after a dozen or so art projects I will be writing about the crassness of quantifying art. Knowing myself the artist and myself the writer, I will probably do just that.