Alma Woodsey Thomas American, 1891-1978


Alma Woodsey Thomas was an American painter best known for her colorful, abstract compositions. She frequently translated art historical references, natural phenomena, and personal aesthetic through simple compositions of circular and linear form. A major player in the Washington Color School, Thomas was born on September 22, 1891 in Columbus, GA and her family moved to Washington, D.C. by 1906 to escape growing racial prejudice. Thomas was the first person to graduate from Washington, D.C.'s Howard University's fine arts department in 1924, after which she gained an MA in art education from Columbia University in 1934.


Thomas' legacy is defined by critical acclaim and achievements, including a 1972 solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Her work was notably exhibited at the White House during the Obama administration's tenure. “Creative art is for all time and is therefore independent of time,” the artist once said, “It is of all ages, of every land, and if by this we mean the creative spirit in man which produces a picture or a statue is common to the whole civilized world, independent of age, race and nationality; the statement may stand unchallenged.” Thomas died on February 24, 1978 in Washington, D.C.