We are surrounded by typography—on billboards, aluminum cans, pill bottles, and pixelated screens—but artists and art teachers, seeking out the materiality of their lived environments, should be able to look at text in different ways. Many artists utilize letterforms as a medium of juxtaposition and recontextualization (Gude, 2004) by placing text in places we don’t expect to see it, or they subvert the messages we expect to read. Typographic interventions can be seen everywhere, by all types of artists, makers, activists, and dissidents. These interruptions could be framed as forms of socially engaged art (Helguera, 2011; Mueller, 2020) that “suspend the flow of everyday life” (Spector, 2013, p.15). At times, these works offer a respite, a re-collection, and/or valuable critiques of the communities they inhabit (Helguera, 2011). This essay invites art educators to utilize letterforms as a material of provocation and interruption. The author sketches a few brief histories of typographic interventions, offers a few provocations for art educators, and provides some examples of student work as they respond to the proposition: Use letterforms to subvert a public space in a positive way.
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