Stop the Violence
Stop the Violence
Stop the Violence
Stop the Violence
Stop the Violence
Stop the Violence
Stop the Violence
Stop the Violence

Stop the Violence

Thirst, Chicago, Illinois, 2010


Project brief: Rick Valicenti/Thirst recently conceived and directed a book for Francois Robert’s photography exhibition Stop the Violence. This keepsake features a beautiful alphabet painstakingly arranged by Robert. Each letterform is composed solely of human bones.

Approach: Valicenti juxtaposed these letterforms with a typed transcript of President Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech from 2009. On each of the 26 spreads, the alphabet of bones punctuates the president’s speech as he advocates for peace while accepting the notion of a “just war.”

The exhibition opened in Tucson on the Saturday evening of the shooting rampage that killed six people and injured Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and others. The visceral impact of Robert’s work has never felt more relevant or important.

Effectiveness: “Thank you for the beautiful and thoughtful book. Stunning, actually. I was struck in particular by the president’s speech. It begins smartly along a predictable, humble path but then shifts. While the speech acknowledges its own contradiction, the fact remains that the violence the book decries and the very nature of the Peace Prize itself stand in stark contrast to the second half of the speech. As the president defends war as a necessary tool, the book remains steady in portraying a human condition. This forked journey is powerfully illustrated.

“Unfortunately until we all look at each other (and understand) as the same, we will hurt others. The fact that the POTUS is of the more enlightened variety cannot change this reality. ‘In our lifetime’ is disappointing. The fact that your book emphasizes this contradiction is a step toward salvation. Thank you very much.” —Robert Benson, associate principal/design director

“Dear Rick, thank you very much for the amazing book!! Everyone at the studio loves it! I look forward to seeing you soon.” —Lincoln Schatz

“R, J & B, thank you for this amazing piece of work that you three put together. I am blown away. I took it home last night and read the entire speech while studying each of the images. It is a powerful compilation of words and imagery and put together beautifully. You should all be very proud of this piece of creativity. I couldn’t be happier that we have a copy for ourselves. Jon and everyone in the studio have been enjoying it. I will share it with many more. Thank you, and well done!” —Dave Burk, partner, Hedrich Blessing Photographers

Juror Notes

A simply stunning juxtaposition of text (Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize speech) and images (letterforms made from human bones). A provocative work.

Collections: 50 Books | 50 Covers of 2010
Repository: Denver Art Museum
Discipline: Book design
Format: Book, Book cover


Design firm
Rick Valicenti
Barbara Valicenti
Francois Robert