Anne Bothwell | Signage Works: Yield To Students In MAP Exhibition
The first sign that artist Rebecca Carter made was inspired by a real estate slogan she saw posted in an empty lot. “Build Your Dreams,” it said. She was taken by the phrase. There were many ways to read it already, and her own bouts with insomnia added additional layers of meaning. So she made her own version of the sign and planted it in her front yard.
She’s since repeatedly returned to signs in her work.
“They’re ubiquitous,” she says. “We’re always constantly taking in this information.”
And what does it mean to make a sign, put it out to be seen?
Carter is also an adjunct faculty member at Eastfield College. And she’d recently agreed to teach high schoolers at The Modern in Fort Worth. So it seemed natural that when she and Janeil Engelstad, founder of Make Art with Purpose (MAP) got together to discuss how she might participate in the project, working with students “to insert their voice into these systems of communication” came up.
The process was similar — “a real process of ideation” — for both groups of students. First, Carter shared her sign-related work. They watched a huge slideshow of other artists using signs. And she showed a collection of signs all over the world. They shot pictures of signs in their neighborhoods and in unfamiliar places. Finally, they did writing exercises to reflect on their own concerns, before creating their own slogans.
“For me, one of the really important parts of the piece is flipping that switch from being a consumer of media to being a creator,” Carter says.
You can see the students’ work at Eastfield College Gallery. There is a hope that the work will one day be shown in a larger space, perhaps at Dallas’ Union Station.