Date of Award

Spring 5-30-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)


Graphic Design

First Advisor

Bethany Johns

Second Advisor

Ramon Tejada

Third Advisor

Kelsey Elder


Spoken and written languages are living processes. As with our own natural systems, they are born, evolve in stages, yet also face the eventuality of death. Current research indicates that there are 7,111 spoken languages in the world. UNESCO lists a total of 577 languages as critically endangered.

This thesis examines the role of graphic design and its potential contribution to the preservation of endangered languages and writing systems of indigenous communities. My interest lies in exploring possibilities of the script serving as a vessel to share and celebrate deeper stories of each of these communities’ heritage.

Through my practice, I experiment with new media tools to explore: the linguistic frameworks and visual arrangements of underrepresented languages, to create narratives that can speculate on how we can signify timelessness — bridging past, present & future. I intend to support communities in their efforts to reclaim their histories through cultural dialogue and collaboration to create meaningful future identities. This thesis details my collaborative process of revitalizing the Sora Sompeng script in support of the Sora forest tribe in Orissa, India.

EthnoGraphemes offers an initial methodology, framework and reference guide for future work in engaging graphic design towards socio-cultural conservation, encouraging human diversity, while celebrating cultural identity and pride among indigenous communities by looking into the future, while honoring one’s past.



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