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Community Spotlight: George Bard '71

George Bard '71

Marvelwood Community Spotlight

We are always proud of the experiences of our pterodactyls. Our Community Spotlight features the stories of alumni and community members after their time at Marvelwood. To submit your story or nominate a Marvelwood graduate, email

We are privileged to feature George Bard Jr. ‘71, an artist, film advocate, athlete, landscape explorer and current trustee of Marvelwood School. George found that Marvelwood afforded him opportunities to gain self-confidence through living within our supportive community where he discovered new interests within the field of athletics, academics and the arts. These new pursuits pushed him beyond the comforts of his home in northwestern Illinois. After a soccer injury in his senior year, his art teacher encouraged him to pursue photography, painting and drawing, as well as helped him foster a love of the visual arts. Most recently George produced an animated short film titled Azúcar with Planet Nutshell, a small animation company based in Boston. This film first premiered at the Socially Relevant Film Festival in New York City in May, and was accepted in other film festivals throughout the US and abroad.

Would you share a little bit about your time at Marvelwood as a student?

I was floundering in public school. By attending Marvelwood I began to meet my needs as a student academically. I became motivated to achieve higher grades because of the support I received from my teachers and dorm faculty. One couldn’t hide during class at Marvelwood as one could in public school, given there were typically five or six people in the classroom rather than twenty-five in the public school. One favorite class during my senior year was Ecology which invited us to explore the world outside the classroom as a source of research and study. As well during our free time, we walked the hills and wooded countryside of Cornwall and so, whether at Marvelwood in Cornwall or as now in Kent, it was in these bucolic settings that provided each student an inspiring place in which to find solace and beauty during those challenging years of high school.

Marvelwood provided me with a place to learn how to play soccer, tennis, lacrosse and to ski competitively. Sports remained a vital outlet for me in my first three years there. Then, in my Senior year as co-captain of the soccer team, I broke my leg during our second scrimmage and I was out for the season. This disappointment ironically led me to discover a growing love and talent for the Arts, especially in the field of photography, drawing and watercolor painting. This abrupt change in my life began a growing love and respect for reading outside of classroom work. In hindsight this unexpected tragedy in breaking my leg, opened up for me an array of opportunities which expanded my world.

What was your college experience after graduating Marvelwood?

I started college at University of Denver (DU) and immersed myself in classes in the Art Department. Outside of the Arts, I grew very fond of a class in anthropology and philosophy which opened my eyes to a larger world. Toward the end of my junior year, I took an art class that took a group of students and two professors on a road trip through the four corners region of the Southwest. We explored places like the ruins at Bandelier National Monument and the remarkable habitat at the Taos Pueblo or Acoma in New Mexico. We visited local art galleries in Santa Fe which exposed us to artists from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds. This entire adventure encouraged me once again to a larger world than I knew beforehand; it was eye-opening and resulted in my decision to move to Taos for a year to learn more about what it means to be an artist. A year later, I decided to travel for a year throughout Europe, mostly in the Latin countries in order to study and see firsthand the art and landscape of this infamous region of the world. After this adventure of nine months traveling in France, Italy, Spain, Greece, and finally, Ireland, I decided to move to Boston where I applied and attended Tufts University and The Museum School of Boston where I finished and received my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting and drawing.

Two years after receiving my BFA degree, I was accepted and enrolled in graduate school at the Harvard Divinity School where I focused on Christian Thought, World Religions, and an independent study into the relationship between art and religion. I took a rewarding year-long drawing class at the School for Environmental and Visual Studies Center as part of my academic work. I also began experimenting with the integration of my artwork rooted within a faith context. After completing a Masters of Theological Studies degree at Harvard, I realized that making a full-time career in the field of art would be difficult for me, so I began exploring art projects involving city youth in after-school programs, daycare centers, and summer camps.

It was at this time in 1982, I began worshiping regularly at the Cambridge Friends Meeting, a Quaker meeting place where I remained for seven years teaching religion with children and practicing within a community that practices a silent worship format that I had grown to love. Then, in 1987, I embarked on an exploration of the Roman Catholic Tradition by first visiting St. Paul’s Church in Harvard Square, Cambridge. There I was exposed to the beauty of this faith tradition through the architecture, murals, and stained glass windows, as well as in listening to the singing of the boy's choir there, daily. This resulted in me joining the Catholic Church a few years later and eventually becoming a member and joining the Adult Choir. Eventually, I worked there for years as a sacristan and then within a program that mentors city youth through peer relationships with college students. I still worship there, sing in the Parish Choir and support EVkids on a regular basis.

Would you share more about your artistic achievements?

I have worked in my own art studio in Cambridge for more than twenty years now. I’m fortunate that the building houses only eight studio spaces. The surroundings of the studio provide a quiet and supportive environment within a close-knit community of friends. It’s been a real gift to have a space to work where I can explore other creative outlets, like music, and most recently, working with a group of animation artists. I’ve participated in a number of art projects at St. Paul’s Church, designing and creating seven calendars that utilized artwork from St. Paul’s Church and a collection of Icons from a variety of Orthodox Traditions. I completed two quilt projects with a group of parishioners, one of which replicated an Icon of St. Paul in fabric.

I’ve always been interested in different cultures. Much of my artwork depicts people of color from different walks of life who represent a variety of notions about the human community. I did an intaglio print while at DU depicting Louis Armstrong, the great Jazz musician, and since then, I’ve kept introducing people of color into my imagery. Other works of mine are inspired by the landscape which has a vast tradition in Western Art and which really began for me while living those four years at Marvelwood in Cornwall. What took hold and called me further into the experience of going outdoors to draw and paint, began there and in northwestern Illinois. As a teenager, I struggled to find my way forward, and quite honestly, my frequenting these natural settings offered a place of exploration as well as solace and comfort from the trials of the world that were percolating at the time. Art became a creative vehicle from which I could journey throughout the world while building a vision of peace and love for my life as a whole. In the process, I’m often drawn to explore new art forms and media sources as a way of finding a personal voice within a broad creative range of action. Which has led me to the creation of Azúcar this year.

Congratulations on the launch of Azúcar! Would you share how you got involved in that project?

I met Josh Gunn who runs the animation company, Planet Nutshell. He kept a studio in the same building where I had been working for about five or six years. Once he moved on, I kept in touch with him. I’d always hoped to sponsor an animation and eventually, we decided to embark on a creative story—as it turned out, in telling the life of a mother and son coming from Honduras and one day making the crossing over the Rio Grande River into the United States. Our goal was to put this short film into film festivals to see if we could build enough interest in the film and in turn, find someone to help in distributing it. This is still in process.

Azúcar is based on the theme of human migration and the concept of people in movement from one continent to another. Azúcar is the story of a mother and son crossing over the Rio Grande from Mexico into Texas. It was inspired by a man whom I know from Honduras whose own personal journey inspired the inception of Azúcar—which means “sugar” in Spanish. It’s been a very exciting project, having now premiered at a festival in New York City and been accepted in LAX festivals in Los Angeles and Philadelphia. One of our lead animators at Planet Nutshell comes from a Colombian heritage and her parents came to the US as young adults hoping to make a life for themselves here. This story of moving from one cultural heritage to another was an experience she has shared, through her own experience growing up as a foreigner in a foreign land.

What is it about Marvelwood that makes you keep coming back as a trustee?

I’m truly grateful for what I received living in Cornwall as a student, and I wanted to give back in some way to help it to continue. Whenever I’ve gone back for reunions, meetings, or special events, I’ve found a rekindling of what I first discovered there. I’ve always felt like there is a shared identity for the people who have gone to Marvelwood, a kindred spirit between alumni, faculty, and the families who send their children there. It’s rewarding to be a part of the School’s continued success.

Congratulations on your artistic achievements and the success of Azúcar, George! Thank you for your dedication to Marvelwood.