Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Art of Alma Thomas

Art and Environment
Edward Hessler

In his columns in The New Yorker under the heading "The Art World," Peter Schjeldahl always informs me about art. He has introduced me to many artists and their work in columns for The New Yorker.  Schjeldahl was born in Fargo, grew up in small towns in Minnesota and attended Carleton College.

In the July 25, 2016 issue Schjeldahl writes about an Alma Thomas retrospective currently at the Studio Museum, Harlem.  I'd never heard of her (alas! but now I have!).

Alma Thomas, from Wikipedia.
Thomas, an African-American, was born in Columbus, Georgia in 1891.  Her family moved to Washington, D. C. in 1907.  Good at mathematics, she hoped to become an architect but she was black and female which limited, no excluded, possible career choices.  She ended up teaching kindergarten. Following several years of teaching she attended Howard, first in home-economics, then as a student in the art department where she became the first graduate of the art program. Following this, Ms. Thomas became a junior-high-school art teacher in Washington, D. C.

It was only when she retired in 1960 that she took up color-intensive abstraction, "moved to paint abstractions, " according to Schjeldahl, "after studying the shapes of a holly tree in her garden, and that she based her color harmonies on her flower beds...".

I love the titles she gave her paintings, e.g., "Snoopy Sees Earth Wrapped in Sunset," "Wind, Sunshine and Flowers," "Stars and Their Display," "Arboretum Presents White Dogwood," and "Hydrangeas Spring Song."

You may see several of her paintings currently on view at the Studio Museum here. In addition, for more see the Tang Teaching Museum.  Hilarie Sheets has a useful editorial about her with more art in Artsy.

Ms. Thomas is an artist whose exuberant art is about beauty and happiness.

No comments:

Post a Comment