Adam Lehl, a type designer from Wisconsin, has been spending the past few weeks as artist-in-residence at Sedona Summer Colony. He began collecting hand-written alphabets, A through Z, about 15 years ago while in college. It began as a project put forth by his professor to collect styles in magazines to understand typefaces while he studied graphic design. Instead, Adam purchased a sketchbook and wrote his own alphabet down.
That same day he attended a party with friends, and people at the get-together began writing their own alphabets into his book. By the end of the night, Adam had collected over 40 hand-written alphabets—and the Alphabet Collector Project began. While on the Verde Valley School campus, and exploring Northern Arizona, he has continue this project with our community.
Lehl received his Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Graphic Design with an emphasis in Type Design in 2004 from the University of Wisconsin-Stout, and has been the coordinator and translator for International Studies on typographic history and processes. He spent 12 years in Spain designing fonts and creating Euro symbols and additional character sets for the European standard languages.
While living in Europe, he continued to collect hand-written alphabets, later bringing the project back to the US where he continues to build his collection. Lehl describes the project as, “A traveling art project with the goal of collecting handwritten alphabets to further define the concept of personal design.”
In February of this year, he met Andrea Avery, a visual artist and the Community Arts Coordinator at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Andrea was instantly fascinated by the intimate stories behind the collection. The two decided to collaborate and refine the project by documenting the process, getting to know the contributors, and adding photography and video interviews to each alphabet they collect. The duo have come to Sedona as part of the inaugural Sedona Summer Colony, a partnership between Verde Valley School and Sedona Arts Center.
Together, Adam and Andrea continue to travel across the country collecting personal stories and alphabets wherever they go. During their stay at the Sedona Summer Colony they acquired over new 60 alphabets and collected stories from artists, shopkeepers and local residents in our community. “It’s a very social project too, “ said Avery, “A handwritten alphabet is very personal, and often begins a conversation about life, style, ideas, and identity. That’s what our work is really about."
To learn more about their story and follow their journey, find them on Facebook at facebook.com/alphabetcollector
About the Sedona Summer Colony
From late June to early August, over 125 invited artists-in-residence will be guests at Verde Valley School—provided with housing, meals, excursions, and support for their creative projects. Some of America's most interesting creative producers will interact with Sedona and connect with our community and its undeniable sense of place. We bring them together knowing that other great ideas began in a small, local way. Places like MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Chautauqua, and the Aspen Institute have all inspired our vision—and our clever plan to position Sedona as a place for diverse, interesting, and significant 21st century cultural production. Eric Holowacz, Executive Director of Sedona Arts Center and Paul Amadio, Head of Verde Valley School are the co-founders of the Sedona Summer Colony.
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