Coeducation at Exeter: Outdoor Exhibit and Instagram Takeover

Throughout this academic year three student curators Valentina Zhang ’24, Christina Xiao ’21, and Avery Napier ‘21 worked with Ms. Lawhorn, Head of Archives & Special Collections and Ms. Rohloff, Reference & Outreach Librarian to highlight archival materials significant to the 50th year anniversary of coeducation at Phillips Exeter Academy.

With a remote and then hybrid start to the school year, the student curators used the Library’s Instagram account to tell the story of coeducation through photographs and past Exonian articles. Their Instagram takeover series named Co-Ed Threads earned a respective following from our PEA community both on and off campus. 

To wrap up the year and to celebrate the return to in-person, the curators also helped in the creation of an outdoor exhibit inspired by a previous Lamont Gallery installation.  Twelve yard signs marking key moments in the history of coeducation at Exeter can be found in locations throughout campus including the Academy Building, the Field House and the first female dorms Hoyt and Bancroft.

More information about the history of coeducation at Phillips Exeter Academy can be found at Her Voice at the Table: 50 Years of Coeducation at Exeter.

Edwin Sulca, Master Weaver

Peruvian artist and poet Edwin Sulca, weaver of the tapestry that hangs in The Class of 1945 Library, passed away on May 15th from COVID-19 in Lima.

According to Dr. Gordon McCord ’98 who informed us of Sulca’s passing, Exeter was the place of the third-generation master weaver’s first US exhibit.  Previously, Sulca had been exhibiting his work and poetry in both Peru and abroad.  Sulca’s tapestries are made of sheep wool dyed using plants and insects and are in the “punto arwi” – a pre-Incan technique (Bio). The 1997 exhibit at Lamont Gallery titled Woven History: The Andean Tapestries of Edwin Sulca, “presented in gothic, ten-foot wide tapestries captured the strife felt by his country through its turbulent past and present” (Soland, Exonian, 8 June 1997).

In 1998 the senior class commissioned Sulca to create a tapestry as a senior class gift honoring three faculty members who had recently passed, Anja Greer (Mathematics), Bette Ogami-Sherwood (Theater), and Fred Termallao (English). Sulca in his own words describes the work and meaning behind the tapestry that now hangs in The Class of 1945 Library’s main floor:

“This tapestry is an homage to the virtue of the teachers who came through the classrooms of this academy, being guides for the children who come to study from all over the world and from all the races.  These children take each other by the hand and come as cocoons to Phillips Exeter Academy, which was founded in 1781.  After some years, they fly like butterflies into the world, and on that flight carry messages of peace and love that will flow like the notes in a song or the water from springs, giving prestige to their alma mater and its teachers who guided them on a good path at Phillips Exeter Academy. 

During this year, 1998, three teachers left us – three teachers who radiated light within the academy and left in their footsteps a halo of teaching, virtues, knowledge, patience and hope.  They left voices which will reach ears like the whispering of the spring rains, like the trills of the little birds that fly with messages of peace, love and faith like musical notes bursting forth as water does from a spring.  Thus does knowledge flow from the teachers that work, sculpt, mold and every day satisfy the hunger for knowledge in their students as if they were their own children.  On the path ahead of them, they will always find a teacher that sows the morning stars in the sky and the light of hope in the eyes of their people.” (Sulca, Voices of the Soul).

After his US debut at Exeter, Sulca went on to have a successful series of U.S. exhibits at Harvard University, Williams College, the Peabody Essex Museum, the South Dakota Museum of Art, and many other galleries and museums. In 2000, the Canadian film company Avanti Pictures produced a documentary about his life and work titled “The Voices of Ayacucho, Peru.” (Edwin Sulca, Curriculum Vitae).

McCord ’98 tells us “Edwin always held Exeter in a special place in his heart, and looked forward to the opportunity to visiting the campus once more.  Alas, it never came to be.”

View and learn more about Sulca’s work here:

Former Academy Librarian to Receive Founders’ Day Award

In a virtual assembly this Friday, Jacquelyn “Jackie” H. Thomas will be the recipient of Phillips Exeter Academy’s Founders’ Day Award.

“Recognized by the General Alumni Association annually since 1976, the Founders’ Day Award is given to those who have demonstrated exceptional service to the Academy. During her 35 years as Academy Librarian, Thomas was an advocate for the inclusion of female faculty and staff. She served on numerous committees and as a day student adviser and tennis coach. Thomas was the 1989 recipient of the Rupert Radford ’15 Faculty Fellowship and in 1990 was named the James H. Ottaway Jr. ’55 Professor.”

  • During Thomas’ tenure, she oversaw many milestones and celebrations of the library building designed by world renowned architect Louis Kahn.
    • 1996 – The Library was named The Class of 1945 Library, honoring Principal Dr. Lewis Perry.
    • 1997 – The American Institute of Architects conferred the 25-Year Award to the Kahn designed building.
    • 2005 – The Class of 1945 Library was one of the 12 buildings featured on a set of commemorative US Postal stamps, entitled “Masterwork of Modern American Architecture.”