Alma Thomas

Alma Thomas: Studio Museum of Harlem

Alma Thomas, Wind, Sunshine, and Flowers (1968), acrylic on canvas, (71 3/4 x 51 7/8 in.)

Alma Thomas, Wind, Sunshine, and Flowers (1968), acrylic on canvas, (71 3/4 x 51 7/8 in.)

As you walk into the main gallery space at the Studio Museum of Harlem you are immediately struck by the large color paintings in the middle of the gallery. Although this isn’t the beginning of the Alma Thomas exhibit, it’s the most impactful work in the show.

Alma Thomas

Alma Thomas

Thomas (1891-1978), began her artistic career after retiring as a school teacher at the age of 69. Not only was her age remarkable, but she succeeded as an African-American woman within Washington D.C.’s largely white and male artistic community. What’s so engaging about the large, mostly acrylic paintings, are both her color choices and the negative spaces between the shapes.

Alma Thomas March on Washington, 1964 Acrylic on canvas, 31 × 39 in.

Alma Thomas
March on Washington, 1964
Acrylic on canvas, 31 × 39 in.

The exhibition features works from every period in her career, including rarely exhibited watercolors and early abstractions, as well as her signature canvases drawn from a variety of private and public collections. The exhibit is on view through October 30th. The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday (when it is free).