The assignment for this class was to create a typographically driven project that relates to the COVID-19 crisis. This assignment then broadened after the murder of George Floyd to address the Black Lives Matter movement. Models of Silence was born out of the intersection of these two issues: the targeting of non-white persons in the U.S. for incarceration as well as they silencing and inhumane treatment of prisoners in the American Prison System.
Models of Silence is a hypothetical exhibition and anthology of writing from American prisons, in all its forms. This ranges from letters, essays by ex-prisoners, graffiti, postcards, even blood on the walls.
The visual language of this project draws from the ephemeral and analog nature of prison writing. Using handwriting, annotations, torn paper, and scanned images of letters and objects.
The typography uses Times New Roman, the most common typeface used by prisoners from their letters, their name tags, and even the visitation forms. This is clashed with the sans serif typeface Favorit, which mimics the brutalist angles of prison architecture.
The layouts rely on vast whitespace where long columns of justified type box in images pushed into corners. Rules eventually confine the short-form body copy.
The color palette is derived from the varying colors of prison uniforms, punctuated by orange handwriting. The orange is a reference to the iconic orange jumpsuits of prisoners.
The project found success in how it eschews normal expectations of depictions of prisons. Rather than cold, the color palette and tone is warm. Instead of pitiful depictions of prisoners it is empathetic and humanistic, while still showing the horrors of prison. The ultimate goal of this project was to humanize and uplift the voices of those incarcerated in American prisons, a goal which this book successfully reaches.