A Brief History of Jewish Typography - Jan.14



Posted on: Thursday, December 19, 2019 - 11:21am

Artist Hillel Smith to Speak about the History of Jewish Typography, January 14

Photograph of artist Hillel Smith in front of one of his murals.Artist and designer Hillel Smith will give a talk entitled, “A Brief History of Jewish Typography” at 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, January 14, 2020, at Western Libraries in the Reading Room (Wilson 4 Central). The event is free and open to the public. 

How have changing technologies – from the scroll to the codex, the invention of paper and the printing press, to the inventions of the modern era – changed the ways that Judaism is studied and practiced? What insights can typography offer into Jewish communal identity and relations? What have been the roles of nationalism and romanticism, assimilation and cultural exchange, in the development of Hebrew typography?  This multimedia presentation will cover the four-thousand-year development of the Hebrew alphabet, from its invention to the present, focusing on how technology and geography have shaped the way Jews practice and think about holy texts. 

Hillel Smith is an artist and designer focused on re-imagining the potential of Judaica by utilizing contemporary media to create new manifestations of traditional forms. He has painted dynamic Jewish murals in Southern California, Atlanta, Virginia, Jerusalem, and at the Fendi headquarters in Rome, Italy. Smith revitalizes ancient rituals with online projects, encouraging creative reconsideration of religious practice. Seeing Hebrew as the visual glue that binds Jews together across time and space, he also teaches Jewish typographic history, using print as a lens for Jewish life and culture.  

This talk is offered as part of the Heritage Resources Distinguished Speakers program, in connection with an exhibition in Special Collections, “As Far As Their Books Reach: Jewish Printing and the Global Jewish Diaspora,” which traces the physical, intellectual, and cultural journeys of the Jewish people through their publications. 

The event is co-sponsored by Western Libraries Heritage Resources, the Department of History, the Department of Modern and Classical Languages, the Western Gallery, and the Department of Global Humanities and Religions.  

For more information contact David Schlitt, Heritage Resources Judaica Project Archivist, at (360) 650-3193 or David.Schlitt@wwu.edu

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