M.A. in Liberal Studies Public Lecture: The Semiotics of Type

Event date: 

Wednesday, February 19, 2020 - 5:30pm to 7:00pm


New Academic Building (NAB), Room 1100
Portrait of professor Patricia Harris Caucasian woman with long wavy blonde hair and black eye glasses smiling


A lecture by Professor Patricia Harris

Patricia Harris, Associate Professor of Electronic Media, will be speaking about “The Semiotics of Type,” as part of the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies Public Lecture Series. Typography is an essential element adding expression and content to the messages it conveys. The style of typefaces, and their cultural associations, lend a symbolism and meaning to every printed, handmade, or digital communication. This talk focuses on the typeface, Blackletter, tracing its evolving meanings, uses, and associations over time. From the Guttenberg Bible, to the Washington Post, with uses as varied as that of a national typeface in 20th century Germany, to a popular font used in skateboard design, this typeface has emerged as an outsider with authority.

Professor Harris is a multi-media artist and designer. She works in a variety of media: photography, sculpture, animation, and works on paper. She has exhibited locally and internationally. Some exhibitions include PS1/MOMA, Exit Art, PS122, The Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art, and Snug Harbor. She is a member of Art Attack International, working on collaborative public art projects in Berlin, Warsaw, and New York City. She is also a founding editor of 108 Review, a newsletter that focused on art criticism of emerging galleries in the East Village in the 1980’s. She has recently completed two public art projects with the New York City Parks Department. One is a mural in the Rockaways, Catch the Wave, and another work, Look Up, in Central Park, celebrating 50 years of public art. A recent storytelling project, Rockaway Tales, is included in Bridging Communities Through Socially Engaged Art, edited by Alice Wexler and Vida Sabbaghi, Routledge, 2019. Harris has a background as a graphic designer. She was the Art Director on 39 Clues, Scholastic’s first multi-media project. She has won awards at the New York Book Show for cover and textbook design. She has presented material on the changing role of Blackletter at the American Institute of Graphic Arts conference, Spaces of Learning, 2016, the University and College Design Association, 2016, and at New York University’s Interactive Technology Program in 2015. She writes art criticism for the Whitehot Magazine of Contemporary Art.

The Master of Arts in Liberal Studies Public Lecture Series features innovative research and creative work by Old Westbury’s MALS-affiliated faculty from a wide variety of disciplines. Presenters share their expertise as scholars, provide insights into current events, and engage in discussion with audience members. Lectures are free, open to the public, and wheelchair accessible. Space may be limited, so be sure to plan ahead. To learn more about the graduate program, or the Lecture Series, please contact friskena [at] oldwestbury.edu (Amanda Frisken) (friskena [at] oldwestbury.edu).