Travelling Lettering Exhibition Featuring 150 Artworks by Students From 34 Universities

Author: Slanted editors

A newly launched traveling lettering exhibition called FiftyFifty collects and showcases 150 artworks by college students from dozens of countries. Premiered in Brisbane, Australia, from April 16th to 20th, 2024, the event is expected to make rounds across the world.

Dubbed FiftyFifty, the exhibition featured 50 × 50 cm black and white script posters designed in 20 different languages. The students, coming from 34 different universities and spreading over 32 countries, presented typographic artworks comprising solely one word in a language script of their own. There were both manual and digital calligraphy, typography, and lettering designs. The exhibition, supported by the University of Sharjah and endorsed by the Association Typographique Internationale (ATypI), was held under the theme of Positive Synonyms. 

Founded in 1957, ATypI is a worldwide organization dedicated to type and typography design. Its annual conference has been a recurrent event since its founding. FiftyFifty was part of ATypl’s 2024 annual gathering in Brisbane, Australia. The travelling exhibition was the brainchild of Nada Abdallah, Assistant Professor at the University of Sharjah’s College of Fine Arts and Design. The whole idea, she said, was using typography and calligraphy to bring different cultures and languages together as a sign coexistence. 

University of Sharjah’s College of Fine Arts and Design plans to host the next round of the exhibition, according to Professor Nadia Mehdi Alhasani, the college dean. “Our college’s support for the FiftyFifty initiative, while promoting internationalization, simultaneously advocates for connectivity through diversity of cultures. This unique traveling exhibit seeks to spread positivity and reverence for uniqueness of cultural identities.” 

The Interest in the exhibition was high, said Nada Abdallah, who initially had received 1.500 submissions for possible participation, of which a panel of nine judges from diverse background and countries only chose 150. Prof. Evripides Zantides, Dean of Fine and Applied Arts at Cyprus University of Technology, was one of the judges. He said: “Through careful selection and treatment of the typography, the meanings of many positive synonyms were visualized and expressed in creative and expressive ways. The result has proven the influence Typography has in visualizing and empowering the linguistic message in ways that emotions are evoked, encouraging and inspiring people to work towards a better world.”

The judges’ option for the best typographic display in the exhibition fell on an animation collaboratively composed in coordination with animator Mahmoud Kanso, a creative art director at nybl, an information technology and services provider. In it, 150 typographic synonyms and lettering designs of 116 participating students were integrated into one single masterpiece displayed at ATypI Brisbane in April 2024 in Australia.

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