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The Columbus Museum is proud to announce the opening of Alma W. Thomas: Everything Is Beautiful, a comprehensive exhibition of renowned artist Alma W. Thomas’ extraordinary career with more than 150 objects, from her rarely seen marionettes to her well-known abstract paintings.
Following a 12-month, multi-city tour along the east coast, the acclaimed exhibition will make its final stop in Thomas’ native Columbus, where it will be on view from July 1 – September 25, 2022.
“Sharing Alma Thomas’ passion for fostering education and creativity and for supporting artists, The Museum has been a beacon for arts and culture in the Chattahoochee Valley for decades,” said Marianne Richter, Director of The Columbus Museum. “The debut of this exhibition in our museum is a beautiful, symbolic homecoming for Thomas. We’re immensely proud to be presenting such an extensive and unique body of work that reflects her life and work and celebrates her legacy.”
Alma W. Thomas: Everything Is Beautiful demonstrates how Thomas’ creative practices extended to every facet of her life, from community service and teaching to gardening and clothing. The exhibition is organized around multiple themes from Thomas’ life and career. It features a wide range of artworks and archival materials that reveal Thomas’ artistic complexity from early in her career to her later projects, including her breakthrough solo show at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1972.
Built on a collaboration that began years ago by the Chrysler Museum of Art and The Columbus Museum, the exhibition is co-curated by The Columbus Museum’s own Jonathan Frederick Walz, Ph.D., director of curatorial affairs and curator of American art, and Seth Feman, Ph.D., The Frist Art Museum’s Executive Director and CEO (formerly the Chrysler’s deputy director for art and interpretation and curator of photography.) Drawing on their respective strengths – The Columbus Museum’s deep holdings in Thomas-related archives and the Chrysler’s collection of mid-century works – both institutions played an integral role in creating a robust, but until now untold, account of Thomas’ artistic journey.
The Columbus Museum audiences have the opportunity to experience Alma W. Thomas: Everything is Beautiful accompanied by Sand Unshaken: The Origin Story of Alma Thomas. This exclusive, historical exhibition draws from the Thomas family archives in the Museum’s permanent collection to shed light on Thomas’ complicated and surprising history of growing up in the Deep South in the decades following the Civil War. Sand Unshaken features portraits, books, family mementos, and furnishings from the Thomas home in the upper-middle-class Rose Hill neighborhood. Among the historic artifacts is a locket purchased by Thomas’s grandfather for her grandmother while both were enslaved.
“Bringing Everything Is Beautiful together was a herculean effort that was made possible thanks the collaboration of a magnificent interdisciplinary advisory committee of experts and scholars – and of course, the contributions of the Thomas family to The Columbus Museum collection,” said Walz. “Now to see it all here, where her life began, is a powerful full-circle moment and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to view such a comprehensive group of work by a lauded artist of her caliber, all exhibited under the same roof.”
Amplifying the exhibition’s reach beyond the gallery, The Columbus Museum has also developed a driving tour that includes 25 notable landmarks related to Alma Thomas and her family. Tour stops include the family home in Rose Hill, Lincoln Park, the historic site of St. John AME Church, Sixth Avenue School, John Thomas’s saloon and the passenger train depot.
Alma W. Thomas: Everything Is Beautiful will be on view through September 25, 2022, while Sand Unshaken: The Origin Story of Alma Thomas will welcome visitors until October 2, 2022.
Alma W. Thomas: Everything Is Beautiful is sponsored by Aflac and was also made possible in part by major support from the Henry Luce Foundation, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional support from the Columbus Cultural Arts Alliance and VisitColumbusGA
Sand Unshaken: The Origin Story of Alma Thomas is generously sponsored by Synovus.
For more information on the exhibitions or to become a member of The Columbus Museum, visit ColumbusMuseum.com.