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Ablaze with Color: A Story of Painter Alma Thomas

Ablaze with Color: A Story of Painter Alma Thomas

Harper Collins

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Circles and stripes.

Dashes and dabs.

Soft colors, bright colors.

Alma’s colors.

As a child in Georgia, Alma Thomas loved to spend time outside, soaking up the colors around her. And her parents filled their home with color and creativity despite the racial injustices they faced. After the family moved to Washington, DC, Alma shared her passion for art by teaching children. When she was almost seventy years old, she focused on her own artwork, inspired by nature and space travel.

In this stunning celebration of art and the power of imagination, Jeanne Walker Harvey and Loveis Wise tell the incredible true story of Alma Thomas, the first Black woman to have a solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum in New York City and to have her work chosen for the White House collection. With her bold and vibrant abstract paintings, Alma set the world ablaze with color.

About the Contributors

Jeanne Walker Harvey has been a longtime docent at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Just like Alma Thomas, Jeanne believes that art brings us joy. Her other picture books include Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines and My Hands Sing the Blues: Romare Bearden’s Childhood Journey. Jeanne studied literature and psychology at Stanford University. She lives in Northern California.

Loveis Wise is a nonbinary illustrator and designer from Washington, DC, now based in Los Angeles. They have collaborated and imagined with clients such as the New Yorker, the New York Times, HarperCollins, Google, Disney Hyperion, and Adobe, to name a few. Their work often speaks to themes of joy, mindfulness, and liberation.

Explore related artwork by Alma Thomas at the Chrysler Museum

Product Details

  • Picture Book
  • Hardcover, with dust jacket
  • 40 pages
  • 40 illustrations
  • Publication date:
  • Height: 11.0 inches (27.9 cm)
  • Width: 8.5 inches (21.6 cm)
  • 1.0 lb (16.0 oz; 454 g)
  • ISBN: 9780063021891
  • SKU010006698

About the Artist, Alma Thomas

Alma Woodsey Thomas (American, 1891 - 1978) was an African-American artist and teacher who lived and worked in Washington, D.C., and is now recognized as a major American painter of the 20th century. Thomas is best known for the "exuberant", colorful, abstract paintings that she created after her retirement from a 35-year career teaching art at Washington's Shaw Junior High School.

Thomas, who is often considered a member of the Washington Color School of artists but alternatively classified by some as an Expressionist, earned her teaching degree from University of the District of Columbia (known as Miner Normal School at the time) and was the first graduate of Howard University's Art department, and maintained connections to that university through her life. She achieved success as an African-American female artist despite the segregation and prejudice of her time.

Thomas's reputation has continued to grow since her death. Her paintings are displayed in notable museums and collections, and they have been the subject of several books and solo museum exhibitions. She was the subject of the Chrysler-curated exhibition, Alma W. Thomas: Everything Is Beautiful.

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Your purchase supports the mission and programs of the Chrysler Museum of Art (including the Perry Glass Studio, and the Moses Myers House). We couldn't do what we do without you. Thank you.

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