Left to right: Untitled (Music Series), Untitled (Blue), and Jonquils, all by Alma Thomas, showcase her unique style—a deep understanding of color theory, finding inspiration in the natural world, and a developing abstract style.
Alma Thomas, born in 1891 in Columbus, Georgia, was an art teacher, and alumni of Howard and Columbia Universities. In the 1960s, and after a thirty-eight-year career teaching art in Washington DC schools, Thomas began to paint for herself. Inspired by the New York School and Abstract Expressionist movement which was unfolding in New York City, she became a renowned painter of the Washington Color School. She was known for her use of bright colors, abstract shapes, and the striking watercolor effects in her paintings. In 1972, she became the first African American woman to be featured in a solo exhibit at the Whitney Museum of American Art. The same year she was featured in a retrospective at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. In 2015, her painting, “Resurrection”, became the first artwork by an African American woman to hang in the public spaces of the White House, and her paintings are featured in a permanent collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Though she believed modern art could transcend political and historical concerns, she was actively committed to social justice and equality and involved with Artists for CORE (Congress of Racial Equality).
Her style was dynamic, and she used vibrant colors to create patterns and spirited color markings in her works. Her experimentation with colors aligned her philosophy and place her work of equal importance with more well-known, male color theorists like Josef Albers, Johannes Itten, and Wassily Kandinsky.
“Light is the mother of color. Light reveals to us the spirit and living soul of the world through colors.” –Alma Thomas
Alma Thomas believed that color inspired by nature was the highest possible inspiration and said, “Man’s highest inspirations come from nature. A world without color would seem dead. Color is life. Light is the mother of color. Light reveals to us the spirit and living soul of the world through colors.”
#buildawardrobe inspired by Alma Thomas’s work by combining Carmine, Plum, Navy, Peacock, White, and Gold. Our Navy, White, and Natural are back in stock by the yard and available in colorway options for our DIY Sewing Kits.
Untitled (Music Series) by Alma Thomas, The Crop Pant Kit from The School of Making, Backstitch Appliqué Swatch in Peacock Blue from The School of Making; Peacock Embroidery Floss from The School of Making, Cast Fabric Cuff in Gold/Vermeil; Reverse Appliqué Swatch in Carmine from The School of Making
Stenciled Organic Cotton Swatch, Embroidery Floss, Untitled (Blue) by Alma Thomas, Detail of The Asymmetrical Peacoat Kit, The Corset Kit, Negative Backstitch Reverse Appliqué Fabric Swatch from The School of Making
Find our 100% Organic Medium-Weight Cotton Jersey, in an assortment of hues, here.
Learn more about the work of Alma Thomas here.
Learn more about Year of Color here.