The Frist Art Museum will present ‘Alma W. Thomas: Everything Is Beautiful’

The Frist Art Museum will present 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 teaching gardening and clothing. Co-curated by the Chrysler Museum of Art and the Columbus Museum, Georgia, Everything Is Beautiful will be on display at Frist’s Upper-Level Galleries from February 25 through June 5, 2022.

This major retrospective follows the pioneering artist’s journey from Columbus, Georgia to Washington, D.C., to becoming the first black woman to have a solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York in 1972, when she had eighty years. 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.“All Is Beautiful not only provides a more complex understanding of Alma Thomas, but also offers an inspiring example of how to lead a creative life today,” said Seth Feman, PhD, one of the curators of the Exhibition and Chrysler Assistant Director for Art and Interpretation and Curator of Photography. He notes that although Thomas had 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. “Thomas rose to fame in the art world, but considered teaching art to be her greatest legacy,” said Trinita Kennedy, senior curator at the Frist Art Museum. The Frist will highlight Thomas’ thirty-five-year tenure at Shaw Junior High in Washington, D.C., by presenting a concurrent exhibit titled Nashville Art Teachers: Beyond the Classroom that salutes our own community’s extraordinary art teachers and their heroic efforts. during 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 display at the Conte Community Arts Gallery from March 4 through August 28, 2022. Read the full press release online. Download a PDF of this press release.


Thursday February 24
Conservative perspective
Alma W. Thomas: Learning from the Artist-Educator
6:30 p.m.
Featured on Zoom
Free; registration required

Presented by Seth Feman, Associate Director for Art and Interpretation and Curator of Photography, Chrysler Museum of Art, and Jonathan Frederick Walz, Director of Curatorial Affairs and Curator of American Art, The Columbus MuseumJoin the co-curators of the exhibition to learn more about how Thomas’ artistic practices extended to all facets of his life. Drawing inspiration from their essays in the accompanying catalog as well as the exhibition, Walz will present Thomas’s puppets and Feman will share more about Thomas’ teaching practice. Details of additional programs will be posted on and @FristArtMuseum on social media.

Mildred D. Field