Friday, April 6 -- 11:30am - 1pm --Bally's, Platinum Ballroom
Chairs: Cynthia Nourse Thompson David Charles Chioffi
Panel: Macy Chadwick, Russell Maret and Nicole Pietrantoni

“The night before I left Las Vegas I walked out in the desert to look at the moon. There was a jeweled city on the horizon, spires rising in the night, but the jewels were diadems of electric and the spires were the neon of signs ten stories high.” —Norman Mailer


Mailer’s visions are of a vibrant time and the glow of his once embellished city have vastly dimmed. Such language, conveyed in the vibrant electric marquees and illuminated excesses are the known hallmarks of Las Vegas. However, the brightness of this  landscape is now an abject vista, predominantly dystopian, and amid dimly lit exteriors and crestfallen inhabitants. Typography once seen only as auditory phonetics to convey a singular level of communication, continues today to be transformed and contemporized beyond conventionality.


As an extension of the conference theme this panel will explore the concept of typography as topography, within an expressive and malleable landscape, with each acre of land speaking a distinct historical and contemporary narrative. The panel seeks to convey as a foundation the relevance of the neon sign, once towering on the horizon, now scattered rescues in a neon boneyard. This catalogue of a past era can be seen on Las Vegas Boulevard at the city’s Neon Museum— conveying multiple narratives of time and place. Its mission is stated as being “dedicated to the preservation of these national treasures as significant pieces of artistic and historical importance. Each sign in the Neon Museum’s collection offers a unique story about the personalities who created it, what inspired it, where and when it was made, and the role it played in Las Vegas’ distinctive history.” The collection serves as a distinct metaphor for the applications and mediums of printmaking, letterpress, book arts, typeface design, and pure typography.


Cynthia Nourse Thompson is currently Associate Professor and Director of the graduate programs in Book Arts + Printmaking at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA. She also serves as Curator and Consulting Visual Arts Director for the Joy Pratt Markham Gallery at the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Prior to this position, Thompson served as Associate Professor and Curator of Exhibitions at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Thompson also served for twelve years as Professor of Book, Print and Paper Arts at Memphis College of Art, as well as Chair of the Fine Arts Department and Exhibitions Curator and Director of Visiting Artist Lectures. Thompson has been visiting faculty at University of Georgia’s study abroad program in Cortona, Italy; the prestigious Santa Reparata International School of Art in Florence, Italy; and the University of Arkansas Program in Rome, Italy. She has been awarded numerous residencies including Yaddo, Columbia College Chicago Center for Book and Paper Arts, Women’s Studio Workshop, the Visual Studies Workshop, Minnesota Center for Book Arts, Atlanta Printmakers Studio, Oregon College of Art and Craft and a letterpress residency at Penland School of Craft. Thompson received her BFA in Printmaking from the Maryland Institute College of Art and her MFA from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. In addition to teaching and curating, previously Thompson worked at Dieu Donne Papermill, Harlan & Weaver Intaglio and the Rutgers Center for Innovative Print and Paper, now the Brodsky Center for Innovative Editions.


David Charles Chioffi is an Associate Professor of Graphic Design within the School of Art, J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Previously he was an Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Design, and Chair of the Division of Design Arts at Memphis College of Art in Memphis, Tennessee. A native New Englander, he completed his undergraduate degree at The Rochester Institute of Technology's College of Fine and Applied Arts, School of Art and Design in Rochester, New York; and received his graduate degree from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. His traditional and experimental work emphasizes the sensory triality of alphabetic matrices and forms: visual, auditory, and tactile, and principally, on how multi-modality phonetic structures and visual architecture formulate and synthesize content. In addition to his private design practice, prior posts have included Executive Vice-President of Design and Communications, as well as Faculty Member at The Hospice Institute for Education, Training and Research, Inc. in Branford, Connecticut; and Associate Director of Packing Design and Visual Identities, Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation in New York City.


The artists on this panel representing each of these disciplines continue to foster dialogues within their artmaking practice and include: the traditional landscape; the illuminated and dim landscape; the veiled landscape; and the anatomy of letterforms as landscape— each instilling independent visual languages. These principles are within trans-disciplinary modes including: structure and content; decontextualized pure typography; printing; bookbinding; the multiple; and, two- and three-dimensional experimental design— each as an experimental map for exploration. This at its core is the malleability and hierarchy of semiotics as narrative— the investigation of the anatomy and application of letterforms constructing multi-leveled memorials— the topography of typography.