Skip to Content

In Depth: “Pansies in Washington” by Alma Thomas

In honor of African American History Month and Women’s History Month

  • Saturday, March 7, 2020
  • 2:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
  • East Building Atrium

Alma Thomas, Pansies in Washington, 1969, acrylic on canvas, Corcoran Collection (Gift of Vincent Melzac), 2015.19.144

Alma Thomas is known for her rhythmic allover abstractions inspired by nature, the Apollo lunar missions, and her neighborhood in Northwest Washington, DC. Thomas taught art at Shaw Middle School for more than 30 years, and her painting career blossomed in the 1960s alongside those of her friends Gene Davis, Sam Gilliam, and Kenneth Noland. Thomas achieved many firsts: she was the first graduate of Howard University’s fine arts department, the first African American woman to have a solo show at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the first African American woman whose work entered the permanent collection of the White House.

Nathalie Ryan, lecturer