Narratives of African American Art and Identity

Alma Thomas

Falling Leaves Love Wind Orchestra, n.d.

Acrylic on canvas

21.5" x 27.5"

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Falling Leaves Love Wind Orchestra

Through her art, Alma Thomas contradicted assumptions about appropriate subject matter and styles for African American artists. She rejected suggestions that she paint "black" subjects and instead experimented with theories that were more national and international in scope. In Washington, D. C., Thomas was associated with the Color Field artists. However, as witnessed in the two works in this exhibition, Thomas's paintings incorporate a fluidity and a lack of structured boundaries unlike the works of other Color Field artists. In both Blue Abstraction and Falling Leaves Love Wind Orchestra,
Blue Abstraction, 1965
Oil on canvas
39.75" x 31.5"
her colors possess a vibrant, organic quality that relates to the natural world. In the latter painting, the brilliant red, irregularly shaped leaves both create a pleasing pattern and evoke the "dance" of falling leaves. Thomas possessed a lifelong interest in observing nature, beginning with memories of the fields and trees of her childhood home in Georgia, and extending to the various seasons in Washington and the appearance of the earth as viewed from an airplane. Through her paintings, Thomas established a global identity that transcended perceived notions of what it meant to be both African American and an artist; although her works relate to her personal experience and observations, they are also a result of her intellectual interest in color theory and her exploration of abstraction.   J. S.


David Driskell
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V.  Diaspora Identities
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Alma Thomas biography

Alma Thomas on the web

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