Barbara Earl Thomas: Nine papercuttings for windows in stained glass

Event time: 
Monday, November 14, 2022 - 10:00am to Saturday, December 31, 2022 - 5:00pm
New Haven Free Public Library - Ives Main Library NHFPL-IVES See map
133 Elm Street
New Haven, CT 06510
Event description: 

The Yale School of Art, in partnership with the New Haven Free Public Library, is excited to share that a series of papercuttings by Barbara Earl Thomas will be on display at the entrance to Ives Main Library across from the New Haven Green, from Monday, November 14, through Saturday, December 31, 2022. Supported by the Yale University President’s Office, Hopper College, and the Yale University Art Gallery, the display of papercuttings will be celebrated with an opening talk and reception on Monday, November 14 at 4:30PM.

These papercuttings served as mock-ups for Barbara Earl Thomas’ commission for a new stained glass window installation unveiled in the fall of 2022 at Yale University’s Grace Hopper College. Thomas’ commission confronts and contextualizes the history of the residential college’s former name, which previously honored 19th-century statesman and slavery advocate, John C. Calhoun.

The twelve new windows, designed by Barbara Earl Thomas and Faith Ringgold, honor Grace Hopper’s legacy as a mathematician, computer scientist, teacher, and rear admiral in the U.S. Navy, and reflect cherished aspects of student life and staff contributions to the college community. In addition to the six new stained-glass medallions, Thomas also designed glass and metal portraits of Grace Hopper and Roosevelt Thompson, which were recently installed in two stone niches of the Hopper Dining Hall. These stunning backlit niches, which extend beyond the original scope of the commission, involve an innovative approach to the medium of stained glass, and complete the artist’s commission.

These portraits honor Grace Hopper (after whom the residential college was renamed in 2017) and Roosevelt Thompson (for whom the college’s dining hall is named). Roosevelt “Rosey” Thompson grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas, and entered Yale College in 1980. He played on the football team, volunteered with the New Haven Public Schools, and was president of the Calhoun College Student Council. In March of his senior year he died in a tragic automobile accident and was awarded his BA posthumously in 1984. Grace Murray Hopper grew up in New York and earned both a master’s degree and a PhD in mathematics from Yale in the 1930s. She helped develop the programming languages that transformed modern computing, and had a long association with the U.S. Navy, eventually earning the rank of rear admiral.

Luis Chavez-Brumell, Deputy Director at the New Haven Free Public Library, shared, “The New Haven Free Public Library is delighted to exhibit Barbara Earl Thomas’s design mock-ups for the Hopper College window commission to bring an important work to a wider audience. This is an opportunity to celebrate local history in real-time while acknowledging the role art plays in healing and humanizing communities.”

Members of the public are invited to visit this display of papercuttings by Barbara Earl Thomas honoring these community leaders during the Ives Main Library’s open hours, Monday through Thursday, 10AM until 8PM and Fridays and Saturdays from 10AM through 5PM (with the library closed on Sundays). The display will also not be accessible on Thanksgiving Day (Thursday, November 24) or on Christmas (Saturday, December 24 and Monday, December 26), when the library will be closed for the holidays.

Poster design by Theo Haggi, Graphic Design MFA ‘25.

Free & open to the public