September 22 – Happy Birthday, Alma Thomas

Posted on September 22, 2016

Born in Georgia on this date in 1891, Alma Thomas spent most of her adult life teaching kids.

But she had a solo exhibit as a painter at the highly respected Whitney Museum of American Art (the first African American woman to do so), and currently one of her paintings hangs in the White House.

How do you connect THOSE dots?

Alma Thomas was always “into” art, even as a kid. So although she first studied teaching and launched into a career as a teacher, she also studied art at several universities, earning a BS in Fine Arts and an MA in Art Education. She visited art teaching centers in Europe, and she did the hard work of making original art.
More commendable than all of that, even, Thomas worked to make art a part of her students' lives. She started a community arts program, and she encouraged kids to appreciate fine art. She helped kids make marionettes and perform with them, and she had them design holiday cards that could be given to soldiers.

Thomas became a part of the Color Field movement, and she got positive reviews for her minimalist Color Field paintings. Her works were exhibited in several different museums and galleries during her life, and she has been called "under-appreciated" by some art critics. In 2009, about three decades after her death, First Lady Michelle Obama chose these two Alma Thomas paintings to be displayed in the White House:

Art critic Holland Cotter said that Thomas's work was perfect for the Obama administration, because it was "forward-looking without being radical; post-racial but also race-conscious." 

If I were able to choose an Alma Thomas painting for my home, I might choose one of these:

Autumn Leaves Fluttering in the Breeze 
Splash Down

Also on this date:

Anniversary of the Peace of Basel in Switzerland

Plan ahead:

Check out my Pinterest boards for:
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