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"Earth Sermon—Beauty, Love and Peace" by Alma Thomas, 1971

A pioneering female African American painter in a white male-dominated field

The first student to earn a fine arts degree from Howard University artist Alma Thomas (1891–1978) spent years as a teacher, dedicating herself completely to painting only after she retired. Exhibiting at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art in 1972, Thomas remarked, “When I was a little girl . . . there were things we could do and things we couldn’t. One of the things we couldn’t do was go into museums, let alone think of hanging our work there. My, times have changed.”

Earth Sermon - Beauty, Love And Peace

Alma Thomas, American, b. Columbus, Georgia, 1891–1978
Mr. and Mrs. David K. Anderson, New York, to 28 October 1980
The Martha Jackson Memorial Collection: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. David K. Anderson, 1980
Exhibition History
FORT WAYNE MUSEUM OF ART, Indiana. "Alma W. Thomas: A Retrospective of the Paintings," 11 September-8 November 1998, cat. Tour: TAMPA MUSEUM OF ART, 22 January-21 March 1999; NEW JERSEY STATE MUSEUM, Trenton, 16 April-13 June; ANACOSTIA MUSEUM, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, 16 July-12 September; COLUMBUS MUSEUM, Ohio, 17 October-9 January 2000.
HIRSHHORN MUSEUM AND SCULPTURE GARDEN, Smithsonian Institiution, Washington, DC. "Put It This Way: (Re)Visions of the Hirshhorn Collection," 24 June 2022-16 July 2023, no cat.
Published References
HILEMAN, KRISTEN and HIRSH, JENNIE. Fields + Formations: A Survey of Mid-Atlantic Abstraction (Wilmington: The Delaware Contemporary, 2021), color ill. p. 10.
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Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Collection
African-American Abstraction/Washington Color School
Credit Line
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, The Martha Jackson Memorial Collection: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. David K. Anderson, 1980
Data Source
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
Accession Number
Acrylic on canvas
72 × 52 1/8 in. (182.9 × 132.4 cm)
Record ID
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