Laughter, tears and, most of all, love was in abundance on Thursday, Jan. 29th, when more than 200 close friends and family gathered in Art Center’s Wind Tunnel Gallery to remember the extremely perceptive, bigger than life, impressively precise, brutally honest and encouragingly supportive Leah Toby Hoffmitz Milken, who passed away in October after battling a rare form of brain cancer.
President Lorne M. Buchman described Leah’s teaching as “the spine,” the core, the fundamental center for the design practice of her students. “Letterforms are a significant means through which human knowledge is conveyed and made precise, he explained. “Leah gave us the gift of knowing language, of seeing the visual word, in its most precise and exacting form. And from that came a release, a creativity of communication that can only enhance our experience as human beings.”
In her honor, Leah’s husband, Lowell Milken and the Lowell Milken Family Foundation made a $2 million gift to the College to establish the Hoffmitz Milken Center for Typography to advance the research, teaching and understanding of letterform design and typography.
“It was a dream come true,” said Buchman. “At its core, this Center resonates with the best of who Leah was. She left us not only with a deep and abiding past but with a promise for a future of continued discovery, creativity, research, excellence – and that promise is in our new Center for Typography.”
Recently appointed creative director and faculty liaison of the Center, Simon Johnston, describes typography as language made visible, “the spine that runs through the body of graphic design practice.”
Many of the alumni on hand shared how, with Leah’s help, they discovered typography as the visual translation of voice. “A voice that can shout, a voice that can whisper, a voice that is scientific or poetic; the voice made visual, tangible, creditable and permanent,” Buchman explained. “As we explore the mission of the Center to set the global standard of excellence in typography and design education, let us do so in the spirit of Leah’s voice continuing to sound, to be made visual, to shout her brilliance, to whisper her profound wisdom, to make real both her scientific precision and the poetry of her imagination. We have a task ahead of us to help make it all tangible, creditable, and permanent. And we are profoundly grateful to Lowell that the power of this great woman will find continued life in our new Center.”
“Our success will be the echo of her life and passion,” said Gloria Kondrup, who will serve as executive director of the Center for Typography.