Alma Thomas

Alma Thomas: An Artist of Firsts

This American educator turned painter and art ambassador was unfaltering in her pursuit of beauty and became a ground-breaker for Black artists in the mid century and beyond. Alma Thomas’ life was full of firsts. She was the first of four children and was in the inaugural class of graduates for Howard University’s first Fine Arts program. In 1938 she opened the first art gallery in a Washington DC public school. Three decades later Thomas became the first African-American woman to have a solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art. And 40 years after her death, Thomas’ work was selected by First Lady Michelle Obama to hang on the walls of the White House.
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New Haven Register

For beloved artist Alma Thomas, beauty wasn't just about art

WASHINGTON - 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.
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