- Curriculum: Language Arts, Social Studies
- Age/Grade: Above 14, Elementary 3, Middle School
- Subject: Multi-Media, Sculpture
- Materials: Mixed Media
- Institution: The Whitney Museum of American Art
- Location: New York, New York
- Duration: 3 - 4 Classes
Sign Language 2 picks up where Sign Language 1 leaves off, helping students to develop their symbol three-dimensionally.
To explore ways of making students' own visual lexicon or vocabulary of signs.
An object, word, or picture which has a particular meaning to a person or group of people.
"I am intrigued with the shapes people choose as their symbols to create a language. There is within all forms a basic structure, an indication of the entire object with a minimum of lines that becomes a symbol. This is common to all languages, all people, all times."
-Keith Haring, journal entry, 1979
"The way it began, was to draw my tag. Tag, meaning signature or what graffiti artists called their name. So my tag was an animal, which started to look more and more like a dog. Then I drew a little person crawling on all fours, and the more I drew it, the more it became The Baby. So on the streets I'd do various configurations of the dog and the baby. Sometimes, it would be a row of babies, and the dog behind them. I was using these images, always bearing in mind the Burroughs/Gysin cut-up ideas. And I juxtaposed these different tags or signatures or image, which would convey a different meaning depending on how you combined them."
-Keith Haring, John Gruen, Keith Haring, The Authorized Biography, p. 65
341A | Drawing The Line - A Portrait of Keith Haring Video
142a | Whitney Exhibition Catalog | Paperback
554a | Keith Haring, Authorized Biography | Paperback
Found object, Sharpies or permanent markers.
Found Object/Sign Language Sculpture
Find a used object or container, such as: an empty chalk box, shoe box, cereal box, an empty soda can, plastic bottle, a used envelope, subway map, magazine, newspaper, or candy wrapper.
Use your sign language to make drawings on your found object.
Use your imagination to tell a story.
Suggested discussion with Students
How do you sign your name?
Do you have a tag?
What does it look like as a visual sign?
How does it represent you?
Do people know it is yours? How?
Which culture(s) used a pictorial system of writing in the past?
Which languages or modes of communication incorporate a pictorial sign system today?
Ask your students to show their sign language stories to the class, and have the class use their imagination to tell what happens in the stories.