Smithsonian American Art Museum
The Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM), including its satellite location, the Renwick Gallery, houses one of the world's largest and most inclusive collections of art. The collection dates from the colonial period to the present and consists of art work created in the United States by American artists. Several of Alma Thomas' works are housed at the SAAM, including "White Roses Sing and Sing," "Snoopy Sees Earth Wrapped in Sunset," "The Eclipse," and "Red Abstraction."
White Roses Sing and Sing, 1976
Snoopy Sees Earth Wrapped in Sunset, 1970
Red Abstraction, 1959
Smithsonian American Art Museum (Evening)
Smithsonian American Art Museum (Day)
Backstory and Context
While Thomas was growing up, she was not welcome in many of museums that now house her famous artworks. Having her work on display in the SAAM is an accomplishment, as few museums featured the work of Black Americans or women artists. These museums were also often segregated. Today, Thomas' work is on display in these very same museums: "One of the things we couldn't do was go into museums, let alone think of hanging our pictures there. My, times have changed. Just look at me now" - Alma Thomas.
Her paintings in the SAAM are not about her racial or gender identity however, as she did not like for her work to be classified in that way. These paintings reflect the expert colorist that she was, with daring and innovative mosaic-like patterns that are inspired by nature. Thomas' later paintings are all abstract in nature, as she was fascinated by the light, the flora, and the fauna found in Washington, D.C. When touring the paintings at SAAM we are able to gain insight into the way her mind worked and her unique perspective of the world.
Thomas, A. (n.d.). Red abstraction. Retrieved April 19, 2021, from https://americanart.si.edu/artwork/red-abstraction-24015
Thomas, A. (n.d.). White roses sing and sing. Retrieved April 19, 2021, from https://americanart.si.edu/artwork/white-roses-sing-and-sing-24027
Thomas, A., Berry, I., & Haynes, L. (2016). Alma Thomas. Munich ; London ; New York: DelMonico Books, Prestel.