A Language Lost in the Diaspora: Tigrinya
Design Research, Type Design, Installation Art, Game Design, Book Design, Poster Design, UXUI Design, Conceptual Design
Being the daughter of an African immigrant has made me sensitive to topics of displacement, social injustice, and cultural preservation. I know first-hand how cultures, languages, and histories can be passed down and/or lost from one generation to another, from a country of origin to one of repatriation. My work, as a result, examines my Eritrean heritage – its history, language, colonization, and sociopolitical unrest – as a vehicle for asking larger questions about the restoration and preservation of diminished and forgotten histories of lesser-known groups of people.
My thesis uses language as the site for this investigation. Using my father’s native language, Tigrinya, I designed a typeface as a way of grappling with my hereditary disconnection, while at the same time, creating a functional tool for Eritreans and the Eritrean diaspora to communicate. To examine my place in the diaspora, I use 3-D wooden typography and 2-D prints to explore what it means to have one's identity inextricably tied to exile, injustice, and colonization. In the early twentieth century, Mussolini invaded Eritrea and colonized it with Art Deco and Italian architecture. In the mid-1970s, my father, like so many other Eritreans, fled during the country’s fight for independence. In a recent, detailed report by the Human Rights Watch, Eritrea has experienced rights violations that have elicited, yet another, national migration. As a result of this exodus, Eritrean decadents are an increasingly expatriated diaspora. Some are able to pass on the language and culture; others may not; and most find ourselves stuck somewhere in between, in a silence filled with wanting to speak and relate and remember but not entirely, if at all, being able to.
290" x 119" thesis installation
"The Words We Couldn't Say"
3D Woodcut Installation