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I created this piece for The Hope Wall, which “is a site for exploring a multitude of ideas and perspectives addressing the overarching theme of hope. Continuing indefinitely, this public ‘canvas’ will change every few weeks or so as new posters are added on top of existing ones. Participants include an international array of designers and artists, along with a strong Richmond contingent. Young designers are represented, as well as long-established figures in the field. We intend to produce a book documenting the entire project. Wheat pasting posters in the public realm has historically been an effective grassroots form of visual communication within the urban landscape, particularly during turbulent periods. Given the passionate protests and demands for systemic change that are currently transforming Richmond, and the tragic consequences of the pandemic, this DIY medium once again seems especially appropriate for our times. We view this project as a way to spark longer conversations about the many critical issues that confront us, helping to bolster understanding and confidence in the future. We hope the visual messages assembled here will have a galvanizing effect as we pursue the ultimate goal of equity and inclusion for all community members.”
Neil Gaiman composed a beautiful piece on fragility and resilience entitled “A Message of Hope.” This is my typographic tribute to that work and to the 2020 pandemic. I took each of the words from his full piece (368 words) and created typographic lungs. Gaiman recorded a reading of this, as a response to the global pandemic. But his words have been rolling around in my head for numerous reasons. When I first listened to this piece in April of 2020, I thought of breath in relation to disease, but also to anxiety, and as he puts it “the pause between an inhalation and exhalation… seems to me that is precisely where we are, living in that fermata, a world of people, waiting to breathe again.” To me, it truly felt like everything had been shifted, and we had no idea what was coming next. Then on May 25, George Floyd was murdered. As the designer, Rick Griffith stated, “I was in the middle of a moment, and then another moment happened.” While the country and world were (and are) still in the middle of a pandemic, we also entered a social movement and a re-energizing of Black Lives Matter. Re-reading the words of “A Message of Hope,” took on another layer of depth. In part, because I have the privilege of getting to take breathing for granted. I think about just how long eight minutes and forty-six seconds is—how many breaths I am able to take in that span of time. But also, as Gaiman puts it, “There are so many fragile things. After all people break so easily, and so do dreams and hearts. And yet as I write this, it occurs to me that the peculiarity of most things we think of as fragile Is how very powerful they truly are.”
This project was installed on the Hope Wall in Richmond, Virginia in November of 2020.