A Language Lost in the Diaspora: Tigrinya 

Design Research

Type Design

Installation Art

Game Design

Book Design

Poster Design

UX/UI 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.

Illustration sample from phonetic flashcard

290" x 119" thesis installation

"The Words We Couldn't Say"

3D Woodcut Installation​

"Fidelia"

Digital Prints

"Fidelia Pt.2"

Typefaxe Specimen

"Fidelia Pt.3"

Postcards & Display Box

"Tigrinya Tongue"

Learning Card Game

"Legacies of Eritrea"

Handmade Books

"Blueprints of Royalty and Play"

Vinyl Installation

"A Language Lost within the Diaspora: Tigrinya"

Thesis Book 

Eritrean Selam: Archival Website

"Eritrean Selam" : This project was not apart of my final thesis, however, in the future I would like to expand my thesis by creating an interactive social network that those of Eritrean descent to connect and share their legacy.

Website Design | UX/UI

Amira Maruf © 2020