This day we celebrate Alma Thomas. A celebrated Artist and even though her artwork was revered during her life, her artwork gained more popularity after her death. She was born on September 22, 1891, in Columbus, Georgia, as the oldest of four daughters, to John Harris Thomas, a businessman, and Amelia Cantey Thomas, a dress designer.
Alma Thomas is now recognized as a major American painter of the 20th century. She is best known for the "exuberant", colorful, abstract paintings that she created after her retirement from a 35-year career as a High School art teacher. She achieved success as an African-American female artist despite the segregation and prejudice of her time.
In 1972, at the age of 81, Thomas was the first African-American woman to have a solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and later the same year a much larger exhibition was also held at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. She believed that the most important thing was for her to continue to create her visions through her own artwork and work in the art world despite racial segregation. Despite this, Thomas was still discriminated against as a black female artist and was critiqued for her abstract style as opposed to other Black Americans who worked with figuration and symbolism to fight oppression. Her works were featured alongside many other African-American artists in galleries and shows, such as the first Black-owned gallery in the District of Columbia.
Today her paintings are displayed in notable museums and collections, and they have been the subject of several books and solo museum exhibitions. In 2021, a museum sold Thomas's painting Alma's Flower Garden in a private transaction for $2.8 million.