DREAM BIG Little Leader: Who was Alma Woodsey Thomas?

Alma Woodsey Thomas was a successful black avant-garde painter, despite the barriers presented by her race and gender.

Thomas an abstract painter, devoted her life to the youth of Washington and other local communities, both as a teacher and as an organizer of cultural events. In 1924 she became the first graduate of Howard University’s School of Fine Arts. She possessed a natural sense of genius for color and form and upon retiring from teaching at age 68 embarked on a successful career as a professional artist.

Born in 1891 in Georgia, as a young girl Thomas experienced the effects of racial segregation, preventing her from completing her education. Reacting to the constraints they faced, her family moved to Washington, D.C. in 1907. After relocating, Thomas entered Armstrong Technical High School, her first exposure to formal art training.

Inspired by the moon landing in 1969, Thomas began her most major and recognised theme of paintings. The series Space, Snoopy and Earth were applying pointillism. She evoked mood by dramatic contrast of color with mosaic style.

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