Activity Group 1: Language as Material

This activity series investigates the theme of language as material, an important principle of Weiner’s practice. Its activities engage with Weiner’s artwork, “BITS & PIECES PUT TOGETHER TO PRESENT A SEMBLANCE OF A WHOLE”.

Weiner’s work uses language to express an idea, much like other artists use materials like paint, cement, video, etc. This first activity asks learners to reconsider language as a material by visualizing it. If we visualize a word, how do we change its form or its purpose? In this case, we are working with the building blocks of a sentence: noun, verb and object. Does visualizing each of these components change their relationship to each other, or create a new relationship altogether?

We would also love to hear how you have used Reading Resources. Please share feedback and student work here.

Exercise One (Kids)

— Reflection:
Did your drawing of a noun look differently than your drawing of a verb? Why/why not? What did drawing the word help you to see about the nature of that word? How did putting them together in a sentence change them or form new relationships? Describe what it was like to “read” this sentence made of your drawings. Did the act of reading work differently? If so, how?

Exercise Two (Kids)

Find three or four easily accessible objects (paper, pen, stapler, computer mouse, book, etc.). You will now construct a sentence with them.

First, take a few moments to brainstorm associations or ideas around each one. Do this on paper. Take your time. Really observe and notice characteristics of each one.

Given your various associations, decide which object will play each role in a sentence: noun, verb, object. If you have four objects, make one an adverb (a word that describes a verb like “he happily ran home”).

Place each object in the order it goes in your sentence.

Finally, invite someone to “read” your sentence. Ask them to tell you what they think it means or what kind of relationships they see between the objects.


Reading Resources: Lawrence Weiner was produced by Art Resources Transfer (A.R.T.) in collaboration with Wendy Tronrud (A.R.T. Education Consultant) in summer/fall 2017.

A.R.T. acknowledges the invaluable generosity, assistance, and enthusiasm of all who contributed to Reading Resources production:

This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.

We also thank:
María Sprowls Cervantes and MaryJo Marks at Lawrence Weiner Studio
A.R.T. Board of Directors
National Endowment for the Arts
H.W. Wilson Foundation
and most specially, Lawrence Weiner.

Web programming by Jeff Khonsary.
Copyright © Art Resources Transfer, Inc 2017.

All images are protected under copyright by the original rights holders.

A.R.T. is a 501(c)3 nonprofit.

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