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Vernacular Typogaphy: Letterform in Urban Environment

Molly Woodward

Oct 8, 2015 - Nov 7, 2015

“One vanishing art that can still be studied in the interstices of the assault of global retail is vernacular typography. All over the world, there are cities and towns that retain their rich traditions of vernacular signage. Unfortunately, the fate of these typographic havens is being threatened by the uniformity of corporate advertising, which ignores and subverts local history and tradition.”
–Molly Woodward

Vernacular Typography is a long term project with over 10,000 photographs depicting local lettering seen in our urban daily life, including storefronts, street signs, and building walls. This exhibition focuses on the part of her collection dedicated to New York City and other international urban cities where she has traveled, taking photographs. The artworks are selected and curated by the artist.

Although Vernacular Typography is deeply connected with each local culture and tradition, awareness of the topic has been raised all over the world, and the project attracts worldwide attention today. Thanks to virtual communication tools like Twitter and Instagram, the movement around the project has been ex- panding in an unexpected way. In an increasingly globalized world, the visual environments in many cities have become indistinguishably uniform and as a result, vernacular lettering is gradually vanishing.

Looking back at the disappearing found lettering in our urban life, the exhibition is an occasion to reconsider the visual identity of New York City and increase awareness of our rich cultural heritage, which we are unconsciously losing and is in danger of being lost altogether.

Vernacular Typography was fiscally sponsored by New York Foundation for the Arts.