Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Alma Woodsey Thomas: Celebrating Women Artists During Black History Month

As a female African American artist who has lived and traveled around the world, I'm inspired by the many artists I have met on my journey. During Black History Month, I want to share with you three women artists who have made contributions to the art world.  I have met, admired and followed many black female artists on my travels, and am excited to share with you 3 African American female artists who represent the many black visual artists I've encountered.

Throughout February I will be sharing with you the artistry of three female African American artists:
This week I'm honored to share the works of:

Painter Alma Woodsey Thomas

Alma Woodsey Thomas in her studio, 1968.
Photo: Ida Jarvis, Archives of American Art,
Smithsonian Institute 
Expressionist painter, educator and art advocate Alma Woodsey Thomas (1891-1978) was born in Georgia but grew up and spent most of her life in Washington, DC. Alma Thomas spent 35 years as an educator, primarily teaching art and promoting appreciation of the arts, and at age 60 retired from teaching to devote her next 20 years to painting.

Thomas earned her undergraduate degree at Howard University as the first woman to graduate from their fine arts department, and her MFA at Columbia Teachers College in 1934. 20 years later Thomas returned to school to study art at the American University.

Alma Thomas became the first African American woman artist to solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art in NYC in 1972 at age 80. According to the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Thomas became an important role model for women, African Americans, and older artists. 

Alma Woodsey Thomas' Watusi (Hard Edge) is on display in the Obama White House.
Do you have any idea what its like to be caged in a 78 year-old body and to have the mind and energy of a 25 year-old? If I could only turn the clock back 60 years I'd show them. I'll show them anyway.
~ Alma Woodsey Thomas, 1970, A History of African-American Artists 

Alma Woodsey Thomas' works include:
The Elipse by Alma Woodsey Thomas
cover art for Maya Angelou
Letter to My Daughter
  • Skylight
  • Watusi (Hard Edge)
  • Scarlet Sage Dancing a Whirling Dervish
  • Springtime in Washington
  • The Singing Head
  • Air View of a Spring Nursery
  • Breeze Rustling Through Fall Flowers
Alma Woodsey Thomas exhibits and honors include:
  • Gallery of Art, Howard University, 1966
  • Whitney Museum of Art, 1972
  • A Life in Art: Alma Thomas, 1891 - 1978, Smithsonian American Art Institute, 1981
  • A Proud Continuum: Eight Decades of Art at Howard University, 2005 
  • Vice President and helped establish Barnett-Aden Gallery, Washington, DC, 1943
  • Honor Roll of Distinguished Women by National Association of Colored Women 1962
  • Two Thousand Women of Achievement Award, 1972
  • Alma Thomas Day in Washington, DC, September 9, 1972
  • Invited to White House by President Jimmy Carter in 1977
For more photos of works by Alma Woodsey Thomas

Next week, I look forward to sharing with you the artistry of Barbara Chase-Riboud.

à la prochaine,


1 comment:

  1. What a great way of celebration. You know dear I also love to make Aboriginal Art whenever I want to express my feelings. I love to celebrate my each moment with happiness, and art is in my blood as my father is a great artist.