Biografie von Alma Woodsey THOMAS (1891-1978)

Birth place: Columbus, GA

Death place: Washington, DC

Addresses: Wilmington, DE, 1915-21; Washington, DC, from 1924 (with the exception of c.1931-34, in NYC)

Profession: Painter

Studied: Miner Teachers Normal School, Washington, DC, c.1912-15; Howard Univ. (B.S., 1924); Teachers College, Columbia Univ. (M.F.A., 1934); American Univ., 1950-60; also in Europe, 1958, under auspices Tyler Sch. FA, Temple Univ.

Exhibited: American Univ., 1958 (first solo); Anacostia Neighborhood Mus.-Smithonian Inst.; DuPont Theater Art Gal., Wash., DC, 1960 (solo); Soc. Wash. Artists, 1963 (prize), 1968 (prize), 1971 (prize); Howard Univ. Gal. Art, 1966 (retrospective), 1970; BMFA, 1970; CI; Franz Bader Gallery, Wash., DC, 1968 & 1970s; La Jolla (CA) Mus. Art, 1970; Baltimore Mus., 1971; Fisk Univ. Gal. Art, Nashville, TN, 1971 (solo), 1997; WMAA, 1972 (solo); CGA, 1972 (solo); Martha Jackson West Gal., NYC, 1973 (solo), 1976 (solo); Columbus (GA) Mus. Arts & Sciences, 1978 (solo, traveled to Huntsville, AL, Mus. and Studio Mus. in Harlem, NY); Jackson (MS) State College; State Armory, Wilmington, DE; Wesleyan Univ. Center for the Arts, Middletown, CT; United Negro College Exh., District of Columbia AA; Wash., DC, Project of the Arts, 1985; San Antonio (TX) Mus. Art, 1994 (traveling exh.); Michael Rosenfeld Gal., NYC, 1996-97; Fort Wayne (IN) Mus. Art, 1998. Awards: Howard Univ., 1963 (purchase prize); Am.-Austrian Soc. Art Exh. Award, 1968; Int. Women's Year Award, 1976

Member: AFA; CGA; Soc. Wash. Artists; Wash. WC Assoc.; Smithsonian Inst.; District of Columbia AA

Work: MMA; WMAA; NMAA; CGA; Hirshhorn Mus.; Phillips Collection; National Mus. of Women in the Arts, Wash., DC; Nat. Air & Space Mus.; George Washington Univ. Gal. Art; Akron (OH) Art Mus.; African Am. Mus., Phila., PA; Chase Manhattan Bank; Columbus (OH) Mus.; Fort Wayne Mus. Art; Georgetown Univ.; Howard Univ. Gal. Art; Fisk Univ. Gal. Art, Nashville, TN; Univ. Iowa; La Jolla (CA) Mus.; Mus. African-Am. Art (formerly Barnett-Aden Collection), Tampa, FL; New Jersey State Mus.; Tougaloo (AL) College.

Comments: Washington Color School painter. Beginning in the late 1950s, after having painted in a realistic style for years, Thomas became interested in abstract art and color. She began painting brightly colored abstract pictures, employing a method of flattened thumbprint pats of color that soon became her trademark. In 1966 (when she was seventy-four years old), she was given a restrospective at Howard University that brought her critical praise and more exhibitions. Thomas taught art to children for over forty years. Positions: teacher, Wilmington, DE, schools, 1915-21; teacher, Washington, DC, schools, 1924-60; founder, vice-pres., Barnett-Aden Gal., Washington, DC. Note: Her correct birth date is 1891, although previously reported as 1896.

Sources: WW73; Sachi Yanari, et al., Alma W. Thomas: A Retrospective of the Paintings (Rohnert Park, CA: Pomegranate, 1998); Cederholm, Afro-American Artists; Bearden and Henderson, A History of African-American Artists; Cedric Dover, American Negro Art (Studio, 1960); McMahan, Artists of Washington, DC; Rubinstein, American Women Artists, 330-31; add'l info. courtesy Jacqueline Francis, New Haven, CT.

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