Glyph. n. Any computer-generated character regarded in terms of its shape and bit pattern. An image used in the visual representation of characters; roughly speaking, how a character looks. A font is a set of glyphs.
I love letter forms. Interesting fonts and typefaces, elegant calligraphy, letter stencils, text-based street art, even a well-crafted tag will catch my eye.
The power of language to inform, connect and create is a longstanding obsession for me. In my previous career as a speech language pathologist, I worked with adults to rebuild communication skills after illness or injury. The structured combination of sounds or letters forms the basis of information exchange and social connection. So as I see it, these minimal information units possess potential energy.
It was after I saw the documentary Helvetica that I realized the key to addressing this idea of potential linguistic energy lay in the letter’s visual form. Helvetica, directed by Gary Hustwit and released on the font’s 50th anniversary in 2007, is a marvelous story of the font’s creation and subsequent domination of public space owing to its fresh, rational form with balanced positive and negative space. In this documentary, something easily overlooked as trivial or mundane is re-framed as a powerful, even controversial tool: visual form matters.
In the Glyph series, the potential creative energy of the letter is explored using abstracted letter forms (yes, in Helvetica) re-envisioned as organic shapes. Positive and negative space is reversed with glass coursing out from the negative space letter form. The viewer is offered a visual puzzle: a letter fragment from which to discern the whole.
Pieces in the first Glyph series in 2007 were cut from vitreous glass tile in a palette of steel blues and grass greens.
Coming back to Glyph recently, I have refined the work by using sheet glass, clarifying the cutting and adding a tiny 24k gold element in the negative space. As one of my Mosaic Elements series, Glyph is a bold graphic composition with endless creative potential.