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Teaching with the Power of Words

by Alex MendezAugust 26, 2020 1:44:57 total runtime

Teaching with examples of contemporary artists who use text as part of their art requires dialogue and discussion about meaning and intent. Students often don’t see words as possible materials or subject matter for art. Showing students the different ways that some artists incorporate text into their work helps them to see the possibilities of doing something similar in their own art. To help students analyze what the artists are doing, I often ask two questions: How do these artists use text in their work? What role does text play in their work? I want students to discover how words can have power in the art that they make and to find the best way to show it.

Barbara Kruger and Jenny Holzer both use text as the major inspiration and primary source material for their work. The work of these artists requires that one read the message in the context that it is displayed. Both of these artists take great care in how words are displayed and focus on the messages that are presented. Showing students works by Holzer and Kruger helps them to see how working with meaning specifically through text can play out in the making of art. Students respond to these artists’ works because they can read and understand the literal meaning of the text and at the same time enjoy the creative ways that these artists relay their messages.

Teaching with the artists in this playlist has challenged some students to think about what art can be, and it has led to careful reconsideration about the power that words have in written form, in spoken form, and in the form of art.

Read how Alex teaches with this playlist in his classroom.