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Aspen Public Radio is proud to present select lectures, discussions, and conversations from area events and festivals, thanks to a remarkable collection of community partners. Click here to view the full archive. Events are recorded at no cost to the partner and archived here online; select recordings are broadcast on Aspen Public Radio Sunday nights at 7 p.m.

Anderson Ranch Spring Series: Barbara Earl Thomas

This event was recorded on April 13, 2023 at Anderson Ranch Art Center during the 2023 Spring Series, in partnership with Aspen Public Radio.

Barbara Earl Thomas is a Seattle-based visual artist with numerous national exhibits to her credit and an active art-making career that spans more than 30 years. A skilled painter who now builds tension-filled narratives through papercuts and prints, placing silhouetted figures in social and political landscapes, she pulls from mythology and history to create a contemporary visual narrative that challenges the stories we tell as Americans about who we are. Thomas is also known for her large-scale installations that use light as the animating force and invites her viewers to step inside her world of illuminated scenography. Thomas’s works are included in the collections of the Seattle, Tacoma and Portland Art Museums, Chrysler Museum of Art, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Microsoft, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Washington State and Seattle City public collections. Thomas recently completed commissioned work at Yale University’s Hopper College as well as two major exhibitions, Geography of Innocence, Seattle Art Museum (November 2020 – November 2021), and Packaged Black, a collaboration with New York based artist Derrick Adams at the Henry Art Gallery at the University of Washington (October 2021 – May 2022). Upcoming solo exhibits include Claire Oliver Gallery (November 2022), and Chrysler Museum of Art (February 2023).

In 2022 Thomas was appointed as an Associate Fellow at Yale University. In 2016, she received the Seattle Mayor’s Arts Award, the Washington State Governor’s Arts award, the Artist Trust Irving and Yvonne Twining Humber Award and the Seattle Stranger Genius Award for excellence in the arts. She was also nationally noted for her exhibition “Heaven On Fire,” a major career survey with The Bainbridge Island Art Museum. Her work has been widely featured nationally; with the John Braseth Gallery at the Seattle Art Fair (2016), and at EXPO Chicago (2017, 2018) and Pulse Contemporary Art Fair (2018-21) with Claire Oliver Gallery (New York)

Thomas is a graduate of the School of Art, University of Washington, where she received her Master of Arts in 1977. She counts herself most fortunate to have had mentorships with Michael Spafford and Jacob Lawrence, who both influenced her work. She will tell you that these two men were not only supportive but crucial friends in her life.