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News About "Alma W. Thomas: Everything Is Beautiful"

This Thanksgiving holiday, spend some time with art and nature with this family-friendly activity inspired by David Driskell: Icons of Nature and History and Alma W. Thomas: Everything Is Beautiful.

Join Alma W. Thomas: Everything Is Beautiful co-curators Seth Feman and Jonathan Frederick Walz to learn more about the exhibition and how Thomas’s artistic practices extended to every facet of her life. Drawing from their essays in the accompanying catalogue as well as from the exhibition, Walz will present on Thomas’s marionettes and Feman will share more about Thomas’s teaching practice. This one-hour program will be presented on Zoom.

Alma Thomas taught art at Shaw Junior High School for 35 years. She said: “People always want to cite me for my color paintings, but I would much rather be remembered for helping to lay the foundation of children’s lives.” To honor and connect to Thomas’s career as a teacher, we asked DC-area educators to respond to works of art in Alma W. Thomas: Everything Is Beautiful . These educators participated in the Phillips’s 2021 Summer Teacher Institute, exploring ways to adapt arts-integrated lessons to their students. Read their perspectives on how they personally connected to Thomas’s artworks.

Longtime DC artist Alma Thomas’s work is currently on display at an exhibit called “Everything Is Beautiful” that recently opened at the Phillips Collection, along with a larger citywide celebration of her life.

Alma W. Thomas was 80 in the spring of 1972, when she now-famously became the first Black woman to have a solo exhibition at New York’s Whitney Museum, then the flagship institution supporting American art.

By the end of her career, Alma Thomas enjoyed considerable critical and popular success. She was the first African American female artist to be given a solo show at the Whitney Museum, in 1972. Her works were accessioned by major museums across the country, and featured prominently in key exhibitions in New York and Los Angeles. But it is unlikely Thomas could have imagined how her reputation would continue to grow after her death at 86 in 1978, so much that she is now one of the most beloved abstract painters of the past century.

In 1966, invited to hold a retrospective exhibition at Howard University, Alma Thomas created a series entitled Earth Paintings, marking a turning point in the development of her style. This series focused on subjects from nature, particularly wind and flowers.


News About Alma W. Thomas