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Art Faculty Member featured on NPR's With Good Reason


Cherokee Syllabary Poster Alyssa Pull

The Cherokee Syllabary is a written language system and the topic of an NPR interview. Radford University Assistant Professor of Graphic Design Ken Smith was recently featured on the August 24 broadcast of “With Good Reason.”

Allison Quantz interviewed Smith for the show titled “Logos: Then and Now.” In this episode, they discuss Sequoyah (ᏍᏏᏉᏯ), the creator of the written version of the Cherokee language, as well as Smith’s Cherokee Typography Project.

For the past five years, Smith’s typography class has been and is assigned the task of re-creating the Cherokee Syllabary in a modern font style.  This helps the graphic design students understand the fundamental elements inherent in all letterforms. Currently there is only one readily available Cherokee font, but Smith hopes to eventually help create other typeface options.

For the project, each students is assigned five characters of the Cherokee Syllabary to develop into a modern Latin typeface (most recently the typeface Futura Bold) . They must construct each character in way that adheres to both the Cherokee language and to the Futura typeface. The students then choose a word – in Cherokee – to use as the subject of a Cherokee language poster.

“This project encourages the design students to study the structure of letters and typefaces at a level of detail that most of us never consider,” Smith said.

The end result is a collection of posters that are displayed in the Sequoyah Birthplace Museum in Vonore, Tenn.

To listen to the interview, the recording is currently available at http://soundcloud.com/withgoodreason/cherokee-typeface-feature.

To learn more about the Graphic Design Program at Radford University, please visit the RU Department of Art's webpage.




Sep 9, 2013

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