New exhibit at Haas Family Arts Library showcases graphic design by alumnus Tom Morin

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Works by graphic designer Tom Morin are on view in a new display in the Haas Family Library. The alumnus writes about his mentors at Yale in his book "Threads of Influence."

The graphic design of Yale alumnus Tom Morin is the focus of a new exhibition at The Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library. “Tom Morin’s Threads of Influence: The Visual History of a Life in Graphic Design” will be on display from Jan. 13 to April 13 in the William H. Wright Special Collections Exhibition Area.

Morin’s recently published book, “Threads of Influence: The Visual History of a Life in Graphic Design” (Fall 2011), traces his development as a designer — from his childhood drawings in the mid-20th century through his professional work during the 21st century. The exhibit presents a survey of Morin’s career as a graphic designer, with a particular focus on his student projects and influences while enrolled in the graphic design graduate program at the Yale School of Art from 1966 to 1968. 

Founded by Josef Albers and Alvin Eisenman, the graduate program in graphic design at the Yale School of Art aims to attract outstanding professionals as faculty, and to inspire its students to develop a cohesive body of visually engaging work over the course of the two-year program. During the late 1960s, when Morin was a student, faculty included Alvin Eisenman, Paul Rand, Bradbury Thompson, Norman Ives, Herbert Matter, and Walker Evans. The exhibit shows the strong influence of each of these important artists on the program and the larger world of graphic design.

Morin was a student of both Rand and Thompson, and his papers provide a glimpse into another generation of designers. Following Alvin Eisenman, Sheila Levrant de Bretteville (MFA ’64) became the chair of the graphic design graduate program at Yale in 1990.

Morin says of his experience: “Alvin [Eisenman], who still resides with his wife, Hope, in Bethany, is single-handedly responsible for plucking hundreds of students like me from the obscurity of upstate New York and from all over this country, to the far reaches of the world; and giving them an incredible opportunity to sit at the feet of some of the best designers this world has ever seen. The field of graphic design has been forever changed and redirected by this program.”

Morin brinks

The exhibit features layouts from Morin’s book, paired with his original documents and projects, from childhood drawings to his most recent work as a principal for Context Design. Morin has donated all the original materials showcased in the book to the special collections of the Haas Family Arts Library. This archive will be available for students and scholars to study as the Tom Morin Papers. The exhibition is also a celebration of Morin’s gift, which augments the Yale University Library’s other collections of papers by noted graphic designers, such as the Paul Rand Papers and Bradbury Thompson Papers. The acquisition of this archive furthers the Haas Family Arts Library’s goals to provide access to primary source materials about the history of graphic design, and to preserve the legacy of graphic design and make it available to scholars worldwide.

The Haas Family Arts Library is located at 180 York Street, New Haven. Library opening hours and other information about the exhibit can be found at:

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