Thomas, Alma Woodsey

Thomas, Alma Woodsey, 1891–1978, American painter, b. Columbus, Ga., B.S. Howard Univ., 1921, M.A. Teachers College, 1934. Thomas grew up in Washington, D.C., and taught (1924–60) in junior high school there while painting part-time. Her early work was at first figurative and then abstract expressionist. After retiring, she devoted herself to her art and developed the abstract style for which she is known, producing paintings comprised of loosely rendered patches or blocks of vivid color configured in irregular grids, as in Red Roses Sonata (1972, Metropolitan Mus.), or circles, as in Snoopy Sees Earth Wrapped in Sunset (1970, Smithsonian American Art Mus.). Her joyous images have been compared to enlarged Byzantine mosaics or pointillism (see postimpressionism) writ large. She was the first African-American woman to receive a solo exhibition at New York's Whitney Museum. Her paintings are included in the collections of many museums.

See museum catalog by M. A. Foresta (1981).

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