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“Can you name five designers of color?”, Phase II exhibition, MICA

Contributed by Florian Hardwig on Jun 25th, 2019. Artwork published in
April 2019
.
    “Can you name five designers of color?”, Phase II exhibition, MICA 1
    Will Kuria. License: All Rights Reserved.

    Phase II was an exhibition curated by Jerome Harris and shown at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) from April 7–21, 2019. The motion graphics for announcing the exhibition online were designed by Will Kuria who currently is completing his BFA in graphic design at the MICA.

    Kuria used Redaction, a recently released typeface family designed by Jeremy Mickel, with creative direction by Forest Young. Inspired by The Redaction, an art project by Titus Kaphar and Reginald Dwayne Betts, it comes in seven grades of degradation. The initial Redaction is not unlike Times or Century Schoolbook, but with deep cuts at the joins. Redaction 10 starts to exhibit jagged curves. By the time one reaches Redaction 100, the letterforms have deteriorated into a barely decipherable pile of coarse pixels. From the project website:

    As files were faxed, photocopied, and otherwise reproduced, the letterforms became bitmapped, bloated, warped, and were sometimes reduced to near-illegible forms. This particular aspect of variable legibility inspired subsequent experiments for future iterations of the fonts.

    The animation playfully mixes Redaction’s roman and italic styles, and switches back and forth between the smooth and the pixellated cuts. The question “Can you name five designers of color?” is overlaid with the names of designers whose work was represented in the show.

    Learn more about Redaction and its intent in an interview with Young and Mickel conducted by Rob Giampietro, Director of Design at the MoMA. The Redaction fonts are free for personal use.

    From Jerome Harris:

    Phase II is an exhibition that showcases the work of contemporary designers of color who are currently active in the field. It isolates a sampling of practitioners working across a variety of industries and shares their work collectively in an effort to circumvent dilution due to a lack of diversity. According to the results of the 2016 design census taken by the AIGA and Google, 7% of designers were Hispanic, 8% were Asian, and 3% were African-American. With so few practicing designers of color in the field, what would design as a whole look like if these numbers matched or exceeded the national percentages for each of these racial groups?

    Phase II acts as the contemporary companion exhibition to the historical As, Not For: Dethroning Our Absolutes. The title denotes this exhibition’s direct progression from the last, and borrows its name from one of the artist exhibited in the original show, with permission of course. The two shows both confront patrons with similar questions: Can you name five designers of color? How often are designers of color featured in publications and media outlets that you frequent? In addition, this exhibit acts as a point of entry or familiarity into the design profession for all designers of color through professionals who look like them.

    Read more about As, Not For: Dethroning Our Absolutes in Madeleine Morley’s interview with Harris for AIGA Eye on Design. In his talk at Typographics 2019, Harris focused “on the formal hegemony of Modernist typographic tropes, and how this imbalance, in turn, determines the standard by which designers and non-designers alike judge ‘good’ or ‘bad’ work.”

    This still shows Redaction 70 for the big type.
    Will Kuria. License: All Rights Reserved.

    This still shows Redaction 70 for the big type.

    This still shows Redaction 70 for the big type.
    Will Kuria. License: All Rights Reserved.

    Redaction 50 Italic

    This still shows Redaction 70 for the big type.
    Will Kuria. License: All Rights Reserved.

    Redaction 10 Italic

    “Can you name five designers of color?”, Phase II exhibition, MICA 5
    Will Kuria. License: All Rights Reserved.

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