MTSU professor combines animals with the alphabet for abecedary collection

Photo courtesy of Leslie Haines.

By Maddie Luchsinger/ Contributing Writer

MTSU Professor Leslie Haines teaches journalism courses, but also boasts an unusual career in Animal Abecedary.

An “abecedary” is an alphabet collection (pronounced A-B-C-dairy).

The average person might associate an abecedary with children’s books; certainly it’s something fun that contains vivid imagery, but for award-winning Haines, the ABC’s aren’t just for kids.

“I’ve always had a love of alphabet books,” Leslie Haines told Sidelines in an interview.

When a close friend approached her about doing animal-themed abecedary artwork for a show, she jumped at the opportunity to use some of her favorite Victorian pieces, including a human-faced walrus.

“I saw the walrus, and thought, ‘I have a great ‘W’ letterpress woodblock that I could stamp and use,'” Haines says. “What other things begin with ‘W?’ I’m going to do this kind of like an alphabet book.”

And so began the work for her first animal abecedary.

The “S is for Slug” piece from Haines’ abecedary collection.

This work has seen the same kind of success the public has come to expect from her.

Though the project started with just a few letters, the Abecedary now contains 30 pieces, including 26 letters, two ampersands, an “@” sign and and exclamation point that have been catching international attention from the art world.

Just this past summer, the cat and the slug pieces were featured in the Inkmaster’s display in Queensland, Australia.

“I started small when I had 10 pieces done,” Haines says.

Her first few shows were small, located in Hillsboro Village, but since then she’s displayed all 30 pieces at The University School of Nashville.

The Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville even used her artwork to promote their show titled “Anthology: Visual Narratives from Nashville’s Print Community.”

Outside of Animal Abecedary, Haines has been a professor in the School of Journalism at MTSU for several years with an impressive resume.

While working for The Syracuse Newspaper after obtaining a bachelor’s degree, she obtained her master’s degree at Syracuse University where she won her first of 19 American Advertising Awards, or “Addys.”

In addition to having won several Addys, Haines judges for the Addy Awards.

Later on, Haines moved to Nashville where she ran her own design company.

After agreeing to take a position at Watkins College of Art, Design, and Film, she obtained her Master’s of Fine Arts (MFA) at Marywood University and has since been teaching for fifteen years.

Leslie Haines is currently teaching Visual Communication Applications, Advertising Design and Visuals and Special Topics in Professional Issues: InDesign Online Publishing.

Next semester, she will teach Portfolio class and Visual Storytelling.

Throughout her career, Haines has had the opportunity to work with organizations such as The Tennessean, Athena Film Works, St. Thomas Hospital; you can even find some of her designs at Target.

As far as what is in her future, Haines says, “I really want to see how far this Abecedary can go.”

Judging from her past accomplishments, nothing is going to stop her.

To contact Lifestyles Editor Olivia Ladd email

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