This year during Black History Month I would like to celebrate Alma Woodsey Thomas, an artist of remarkable accomplishment.
Thomas, started her painting career at the age of 70, after being a junior high school teacher for 35 years. YES! We can create “new beginnings” even in our senior citizen years.
Thomas’s parents migrated from Georgia to Washington, D.C. in 1906. In 1932 she became the first graduate of the Fine Arts department at Howard University, which is also the Alma Mata of the first African/Asian vice president of the United States, Kamala Harris. After graduation from Howard, in 1925, she taught Art at Shaw Junior High School until 1960. During her teaching career, she managed to also earn degrees from Columbia University and from New York University.
Thomas considered giving up Painting when she retired because of arthritis pain. However , in 1966 Howard University offered to mount a retrospective of her work. That’s when she decided she wanted to produce new paintings.
Alma Thomas was later honored with one-woman exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art. In 1972 her painting Red Roses Sonata was selected for the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Before her death in 1978, she was nationally recognized as a key woman artist dedicated to abstract painting
Some of her other well-known paintings are: Fiery Sunset, Snoopy Sees Earth Wrapped in Sunset.