WASHINGTON—Joining cultural and educational institutions from across Washington, D.C., the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) announces its participation in a citywide celebration of the artist Alma Woodsey Thomas (1891–1978) with programs this fall that complement the retrospective Alma W. Thomas: Everything is Beautiful at The Phillips Collection. Thomas was a pioneering artist and educator who taught the importance of seeking beauty in the everyday. She developed her signature style—large, abstract paintings filled with dense, irregular patterns of bright colors—in her 70s. NMWA will explore Thomas’s life and artistic process as well as the artists and movements that inspired her vibrant artwork.
The citywide celebration will provide a fresh perspective on a dynamic and multifaceted career defined by constant creativity. The retrospective and celebratory events trace her journey from semi-rural Georgia to Washington, D.C., to becoming the first Black woman given a solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art at age 81.
NMWA xChange: Alma Woodsey Thomas and the Little Paris Group
Tuesday, September 14, 12–12:45 p.m.
Alma Woodsey Thomas was part of the Little Paris Group, an intellectual and aesthetic collective of African American artists started in Washington by painter and textile designer Loïs Mailou Jones and artist and Howard University arts professor Céline Marie Tabary. During this monthly talk show, viewers are connected to NMWA and its mission to champion women artists. Hosts from the museum interview special guests, including artists, educators and curators; consider topics relevant to our world; and offer insight into collaborations that NMWA is fostering while its building is closed for renovation. In the first episode of the series, the museum’s Associate Curator Virginia Treanor, PhD, and Senior Educator Adrienne L. Gayoso welcome independent scholar, art historian and curator Adrienne L. Childs, PhD. Free. Registration required at https://nmwa.org/whats-on/calendar/nmwa-xchange-sep-14/.
Virtual Happy Hour: Alma Woodsey Thomas and Her Circles
Wednesday, October 13, 5:30–6:30 p.m.
A virtual happy hour celebrates Alma Woodsey Thomas and her remarkable art circles. A specialty cocktail will be made in her honor and presenters will share artworks and stories about the Little Paris Group and Washington Color School, a visual art movement primarily concerned with non-representational color field painting. Guest speaker Fanna Gebreyesus, curatorial associate at Glenstone Museum, leads an exploration of #5WomenArtists behind these art movements. Free. Registration required at https://nmwa.org/whats-on/calendar/virtual-happy-hour-oct-13/.
Alma Woodsey Thomas: Beneath the Surface
Wednesday, December 8, 1–1:45 p.m.
A conversation with Gwen Manthey, paintings conservator at Smithsonian American Art Museum, delves into the Smithsonian’s research into Alma Woodsey Thomas’s artistic process. Manthey explores materials and techniques that the artist used to create her abstract compositions and vibrant patterns. Free. Registration required at https://nmwa.org/whats-on/calendar/alma-woodsey-thomas-dec-08/.
Follow NMWA on social media @WomenInTheArts for resources, information and collaborations to be shared throughout fall 2021.
Alma W. Thomas Everything Is Beautiful: A Washington, D.C., Citywide Celebration
Alma W. Thomas (1891–1978) was a pioneering artist and educator who taught us the importance of seeking beauty in the everyday. Beyond her artwork, Thomas’s contributions to D.C.’s cultural heritage were vast and varied—she was the first graduate of Howard University’s Department of Art, the first African American woman to have a work of art acquired by the White House Collection, a founding member and vice president of one of the first Black-owned private galleries in the nation, and a teacher for 35 years. In summer and fall 2021, cultural and educational institutions across Washington, D.C., will celebrate Thomas’s life with a variety of programs and events, alongside the retrospective Everything Is Beautiful at The Phillips Collection, October 30, 2021, to January 23, 2022—honoring the artist through opportunities that encourage the pursuit of beauty. Visit www.AlmaThomasDC.org for more information.
Partners include American University, DC Public Library, DC Public Schools, Destination DC, Dumbarton Oaks, Howard University, Jon Gann (director of the short documentary Everything Is Beautiful), The Kennedy Center, National Gallery of Art, Office of the Mayor, The Phillips Collection, the National Museum of Women in the Arts and Smithsonian American Art Museum.
National Museum of Women in the Arts
The National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) is the only major museum in the world solely dedicated to championing women through the arts. With its collections, exhibitions, programs and online content, the museum inspires dynamic exchanges about art and ideas. NMWA advocates for better representation of women artists and serves as a vital center for thought leadership, community engagement and social change. NMWA addresses the gender imbalance in the presentation of art by bringing to light important women artists of the past while promoting great women artists working today. The collections highlight painting, sculpture, photography and video by artists including Louise Bourgeois, Mary Cassatt, Judy Chicago, Frida Kahlo, Shirin Neshat, Faith Ringgold, Pipilotti Rist, Amy Sherald and Élisabeth Louise Vigée-LeBrun.
The museum building is closed for a major renovation, with plans to reopen in fall 2023. Visit nmwa.org/renovation for more information. During the building closure, NMWA continues its mission-based work and engages supporters and friends through a dynamic slate of online programs and events, off-site and virtual exhibitions, and digital content. For information, call 202-783-5000, visit nmwa.org, Broad Strokes blog, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
Amy Mannarino, firstname.lastname@example.org, (202) 783-7373