Sheila de Bretteville Named the Street Professor

Sheila L. de Bretteville, the newly named Caroline M. Street Professor of Graphic Design, is a noted graphic designer and public artist who was designated in 2006 as a “Design Legend” by the American Institute of Graphic Arts.

Her work reflects her interests in feminist principles, user participation in graphic design and the importance of community.

One of her best-known public art pieces is “Biddy Mason: Time & Place,” an 82-foot long mural on the wall of a Los Angeles street that tells the story of an African-American midwife who lived at the site. A later work, New Haven’s “Path of Stars,” documents the lives of local citizens in one neighborhood - past and present - with granite stars set in the sidewalk. For these and other projects, de Bretteville made a point to reflect the everyday life and memories of the communities in which the works are sited.

After studying graphic design at the Yale School of Art, de Bretteville founded the first design program for women at the California Institute of the Arts and later co-founded The Woman’s Building, a public center for female culture, and its Women’s Graphic Center in Los Angeles. In 1981 she initiated the communication design program at the Otis Art Institute of the Parsons School of Design.

Her work in books, magazines and newspapers includes the redesign of the Los Angeles Times. Her posters and fine press editions are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Centre Pompidou in Paris and numerous university and public libraries. Her many publications on art and culture include “The Photographs of Dorothy Norman” and “The Motown Album.”

The graphic designer and artist joined the Yale School of Art faculty in 1990 as its first tenured woman, when she was named professor and director of graduate studies in graphic design.

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