NASHVILLE, January 11, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — The Frist Art Museum Presents Alma W. Thomas: Everything is beautiful, a comprehensive overview of the artist’s long, dynamic life (1891-1978) and multi-faceted career defined by constant creativity. Featuring more than 150 works, including his cheerful and colorful abstract paintings and many objects that have never been exhibited or published before, the exhibition shows how Thomas’ artistic practices extended to all aspects of his life, from community service and instruction in gardening and clothing. Co-organized by the Chrysler Museum of Art and the Columbus Museum, Georgia, Everything is beautiful will be visible at Frist’s from From February 25 to June 5, 2022.
This retrospective follows the career of the avant-garde artist from Columbus, Georgiaat washington d.c.to become the first black woman to have a solo exhibition at the New York one Whitney Museum of American Art in 1972, when she was eighty years old. It includes thirty-eight canvases covering the period 1922-1977, over sixty works on paper, four puppets and a range of sculptures, photographs and ephemera. “The collection of the Columbus Museum includes an extraordinary set of documents related to Thomas, thanks to the donations of his family, in particular his sister John Maurice Thomas,” noted Jonathan Frederick Walz, PhD, Director of Curatorial Affairs and Curator of American Art at the Columbus Museum. “Many of these works have not been seen outside of Georgia.”
“Everything is beautiful not only provides a more complex understanding of Alma Thomasbut also offers an inspiring example of how to lead a creative life today,” says Seth Feman, PhD, one of the exhibit’s curators and deputy director for art and interpretation at Chrysler and curator of photography. He notes that while Thomas has long been adored by collectors and scholars, his talent remained unrecognized by the general public for more than three decades after his death until 2009, when President barack obama and First Lady michelle obama included his work among the paintings they installed in the White House.
The exhibition explores Thomas’ relationship with the Washington Color School, the creative communities connected to Howard University, and peers who protested against museums that did not exhibit artists of color. “Throughout his career, the art departments and galleries of historically black colleges and universities provided Thomas with vital support,” said the Frist Art Museum’s senior curator. Trinity Kennedy. “His closest relations were with Howard Universityher alma mater, and the place where she got her start in her abstract style – what she called “Alma stripes” – in 1966. This exhibition marked the beginning of her meteoric rise in the art world .”
Walking through the galleries, guests will encounter the archetypal spaces where Thomas expressed his creativity, including the studio, garden, theatre, community sites such as schools and churches, universities, and the arts scene that spanned of washington d.c.at New York and beyond through the Art in Embassies program. Thomas’ presence will also be invoked through recreations of her distinctive dresses with bold geometric patterns, a new documentary about her life and career, and the music she listened to while painting.
The Frist is one of four museums presenting this tribute to Thomas. “Here in Nashvillespecial attention will be given to Thomas’s 1971 exhibition organized by David C. Driskell at Fisk University Carl Van Vechten Art Gallery“, says Kennedy. “It was Driskell who brought Thomas to the attention of the Whitney Museum, and the two exhibits have much in common.” Everything is beautiful begins with a partial revival of the 1972 Whitney show, including a recreation of the dress Thomas commissioned to complete his art and worn at the opening.
The success of Thomas’ remarkable last years tends to overshadow her previous decades of dedication to various local organizations, her diverse creative interests, and the way she viewed the natural world as an enduring source of inspiration. “Thomas rose to fame in the art world, but considered teaching art to be her greatest legacy,” says Kennedy. The Frist will celebrate Thomas’ thirty-five year tenure at Shaw Junior High at washington d.c.by presenting a parallel exhibition entitled Art Teachers in Nashville: Beyond the Classroom which salutes the extraordinary art teachers in our own community and their heroic efforts under the difficult circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. It features the work of elementary, middle and high school art teachers working in Davidson County and will be on view at the Conte Community Arts Gallery from From March 4 to August 282022.
Co-organized by the Chrysler Museum of Art and the Columbus Museum, Georgia
Aflac is proud to sponsor Alma W. Thomas: Everything is beautiful. The exhibition was also made possible in part thanks to the significant support of the Henri Luce Foundation, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Supported in part by Ameriprise Financial.
Sponsor of the Spanish translation: Center for Latin America, Caribbeanand Latinx Studies at Vanderbilt University
The Frist Art Museum is supported in part by the Frist Foundation, the Metro Nashville Arts Commission, the Tennessee Arts Commission, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
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About the first art museum
Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, the Frist Art Museum is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit art exhibit facility dedicated to presenting and creating high-quality exhibits with programs related educational and community outreach activities. Located at 919 Broadway in downtown Nashville, Tennessee, the Frist Art Museum offers the finest visual arts from local, regional, national, and international sources in exhibits that inspire people through art to look at their world in a new way. Accessibility information is available at FristArtMuseum.org/accessibility. Admission to the gallery is free for visitors 18 and under and for members, and $15 for adults. For current hours and additional information, visit FristArtMuseum.org or call 615.244.3340.