Design Lecture Series

Sheila Levrant de Bretteville

February 07 2020

Watch VideoView Sheila Levrant de Bretteville's Work

Sheila Levrant de Bretteville is a graphic designer, artist and educator whose work reflects her belief in the importance of diversity and equality in graphic design and celebrating diversity in local communities. Since 1990 she has directed Yale University’s School of Art’s graphic design area of study, one of the oldest and most important design programs in the country. While the California Institute of the Arts was being planned in 1969 Sheila was asked to create the graphics that represented this new institute. She did her first teaching there and in 1971 founded the first Women’s Design Program. Two years later she left to co-found the independent Los Angeles “Woman’s Building,” a public center for female culture, and its Women’s Graphic Center. In 1981, she left the Woman’s Building to the next generation and initiated the Communication Design and Illustration program at the Otis Art Institute of the Parsons School of Design.

She is the recipient of five Honorary Doctorates by schools of Art and Design on both coasts. The AIGA Medal recognizes her exceptional achievement in the area of graphic design. In 1985, Sheila began her career in public art. Betye Saar and Sheila, neighbors and friends, each did works to commemorate Biddy Mason, the midwife and influential matriarch in the black community who lived at the site in the mid-nineteenth century. Betty Saar created the “House of the Open Hand’ her last public artwork, and Sheila created her first, “Biddy Mason: Time and Place,” an 82-foot-long mural. Sheila’s next site-specific project was in the old Little Tokyo neighborhood, “Omoide no Shotokyo” delivering the voices of four Japanese generations who lived and worked at that site in Los Angeles.

Selected Work by Sheila Levrant de Bretteville

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