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Jerry Kelly, the 28th RIT Goudy Award Winner

Jerry Kelly addressing the audience at RIT and showing a photo of an Instructional chalkboard lettered at RIT by Hermann Zapf ca. 1979, using Jerry Kelly's name as an example.

Jerry Kelly addresses the audience at RIT, showing a photo of Hermann Zapf teaching at RIT ca. 1979. (Emily Hancock)

The Frederic W. Goudy Award for Excellence in Typography was presented to Jerry Kelly on October 24, 2015 as the closing event of the APHA conference at RIT. The Goudy Award is a tradition that is co-sponsored by the Cary Graphic Arts Collection and the RIT School of Media Sciences that honors outstanding practitioners in type design and its related fields. The first Goudy laureate in 1969 was Professor Hermann Zapf, (1918–2015), who later taught at RIT in the 1970s and 80s. It was fitting that the latest Goudy Award should go to one of Zapf’s most successful students, Jerry Kelly, a leading calligrapher, book designer, type designer, and typographer who practices out of New York City.

“Jerry Kelly’s career exemplifies the values of the Goudy Award,” said Steven Galbraith, curator of the Cary Collection in his introduction. “His work expresses his unique voice while also continuing the legacies of masters, such a Hermann Zapf and Bruce Rogers.” Galbraith presented Kelly with the Award: a stunning Roman inscriptional alphabet stone cut by Christopher Stinehour.

The Goudy Award alphabet stone cut by Christopher Stinehour, 2015. Given by RIT to Jerry Kelly.

The Goudy Award alphabet stone cut by Christopher Stinehour, 2015. Given by RIT to Jerry Kelly.

The evening progressed with Mr. Kelly’s delivery of the 28th Goudy Distinguished Lecture in Typography. He first spoke about his relationship with Zapf and how the classes at RIT changed the course of his career in the letter arts. Kelly then questioned contemporary mainstream considerations of fine art lettering versus commercial art calligraphy. His slides showed examples of accomplished calligraphy by Jeanyee Wong, Alice Koeth, and Zapf as compared to graffiti-like lettering by painter Kim Gordon and monumental sculptural lettering by Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Kelly’s final appeal was that the calligraphic works should be considered as a high art form. No doubt, his lecture gave the attendees of “Printing on the Handpress & Beyond” an entertaining and provocative conclusion to the weekend’s events.

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