Welcome to Reading Resources!
Reading Resources is A.R.T.’s annual series of online pedagogical guides that accompany the free art books granted by the Distribution to Underserved Communities Library Program (D.U.C).
Each installment is developed through a year-long engagement with the work of our annual artist honoree. Adopting the artist’s methodology as a lens, it outlines their modes of looking, reading, questioning, and making as a model for literacy. In 2016, Reading Resources engages with the work of Glenn Ligon.
Each series includes:
— a Guiding Question that focuses and contextualizes the artist’s practice in a broader social context.1
— Understandings: that outline big ideas in dialog with the Guiding Question.2 Knowings and Doings further develop each Understanding. Knowings offer readers concrete concepts and information related to the larger Understanding. Doings are pedagogical exercises that ask the reader to engage directly with the Understanding and Knowings of each section.
— Bibliography that traces the artist’s creative affinities and influences through his practice of viewing and reading.
— Ways of Reading that investigates how books, as forms of storing and sharing information, make meaning through different contexts and uses. Practitioners from various disciplines outline their process of engaging with a book specific to the focus artist, offering readers a diversity of models and tools for reading.3
— Activating the Catalog that outlines several of the Lenses through which books in the D.U.C. catalog can be read in relation to the focus artist. This section enables readers to use D.U.C. books as tools of learning by putting the series’ concepts, knowledge, and strategies into practice.4
Reading Resources: Glenn Ligon is designed to focus the artist’s work through a question posed by his 1989 painting, How Can the Master’s Tools Dismantle the Master’s House?
Reading Resources bases its pedagogical model on the Understanding by Design® (UbD™) developed by educators Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe, and published by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD). The model emphasizes student understanding of big ideas through a ‘backwards planning’ method in which learning goals are outlined prior to classroom activities. Detailed information can be found through the Authentic Education Association as well as books published by the ASCD.
With Glenn Ligon, Ways of Reading focuses on his artist’s book, A People on the Cover (Ridinghouse, 2015).
With Glenn Ligon, we highlight and define the Lenses of Identity and Power.
A.r.t. believes equal access to the arts and education are key to individual empowerment and democratic community. Since 1991, the D.U.C. has advanced this mission by endowing over 7,500 public schools and libraries with more than 400,000 free books on contemporary art.
Reading Resources responds to the question: what happens when a D.U.C. book reaches a library’s shelf? The deeper concern that this question raises is how and where does access begin? Is the physical presence of a book sufficient for its activation by a reader? What are the potentials and demandsimage of books on contemporary art? What do they ask of teachers, librarians, students, and readers? And ultimately, how can these books be put to use?
Throughout 2016, the D.U.C. has honored Glenn Ligon by distributing an estimated 24,500 free books to 650 public institutions in his name.
Glenn Ligon is an artist whose uses of reading reframe dominant narratives of history and cultural identity.5 The artist’s paintings,image prints, and installations rework literary and vernacular traditions. They grasp language as both material and subject matter, and elicit incisive inquiries into issues of visibility, race, identity, and history.
Ligon‘s works are generally composed with citations of public and literary figures that range across modernist, popular, and specifically African American cultural traditions. Quotes by James Baldwin, Richard Pryor, Zora Neale Hurston, Gertrude Stein, and Jean Genet appear stenciled in thick and often-smudged oil paint throughout some of the artist’s paintings. imageAs Ligon moves between painting and literature, image and text, he loosens the limiting conventions of each form. His paintings become carriers of multiple discourses, contesting master narratives with a textured polyphony of alternate histories.
Born in the South Bronx of New York in 1960, Ligon’s ardent reading practices blur the boundaries between his biography and bibliography.
Reading Resources posits that access requires both the presence of a book as well as the understandings and tools that enable a reader to engage it in the context of their own lives.
Reading Resources offers a model for building literacy through the arts. We define literacy as the ability to use language (whether written, spoken, visual, bodily, musical, etc.) to understand, question, and communicate concepts and knowledge within and between particular contexts. Literacy involves not only the ability to read and write, but also the ability to expand one’s frameworks of understanding and transform texts through their active use.
By approaching literacy through contemporary art, Reading Resources activates artistic strategies, methodologies, and the multiple media they engage to expand the concepts and communicative resources readers can access. As a pedagogical resource, the series addresses readers as agents of active inquiry and libraries as sites in which the terrain of knowledge is engaged, contested, and transformed.