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“Finch & Thistle”, woodcut, 8.5×13

Olivet College will present “Re-Connections” by Barbara Earl Thomson ’43 (1921-2019) on Aug. 26 – Sept. 23, 2021. A reception will be held on Friday, Aug. 27, 5-7 p.m. The exhibition and reception will be held at the Kresge Foundation Art Gallery inside the Riethmiller Blackman Art Building. The gallery is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public.

Barbara Earl Thomson ’43 (1921-2019) was born in India, and her Indian childhood was central to her sense of self throughout her life. She began drawing and painting watercolors when she was young. In 1930, her parents returned to Flint, and she enrolled at Olivet College in 1939. She graduated in 1943, and married alumnus William Gregory Thomson ’42 soon after. The couple lived in Florida for 11 years where Thomson began taking art classes. When they returned to Olivet, Thomson studied woodcut with Olivet College Professor Emeritus of Art Donald Rowe. She earned a Master of Arts in studio art with an emphasis in woodcut in 1978. She was a lifelong poet, and her artist’s book “Love’s Mirror” combines her prints and poems. Thomson also painted watercolors, including many cards for family and friends, all her life. During the 1980s, she exhibited prints in nine shows in Michigan and Florida.

“Late Marigolds”, woodcut, 8.5×8

Thomson was drawn to the woodcut process because it involved wood and the carving of wood to produce an image. She used a variety of woods for printing blocks, most often basswood and pine, but also cherry, cedar, willow and plywood, carefully choosing the wood that could convey the image she wanted to make. Thomson was skilled in using traditional woodcut tools to create negative and positive space and in using the grain of the block to give desired textures. Her color schemes were always innovative. Through the college printmaking facility just down the street from her home and studio, Thomson was fortunate to have had access to a wide variety of European and Japanese handmade printing papers, which she used with great skill.

For more information, contact Gary Wertheimer, professor of art, at 269-749-7627. Learn more about Olivet College by contacting the Office of Admission at 800-456-7189 or admissions@olivetcollege.edu.

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