Frist showcases beauty of revolutionary artist and educator Alma Thomas

Robert G. Mull
Untitled art by Alma W. Thomas, ca. 1968, acrylic on cut, stapled and taped paper.

“Alma W. Thomas: Everything Is Beautiful,” on view at the Frist through June 5, is a welcome balm to our weary souls. And this is no accident. Thomas was a revolutionary artist and educator who cultivated beauty and creativity in all aspects of her long life. And she was dedicated to bringing that same energy into the lives of others, as well. 

“Alma Thomas really wanted her art to do something for people,” said Seth Feman, co-curator of the show and deputy director for art and interpretation and curator of photography at the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk, Va. “She often used the term “beautify,” which to her didn’t just mean to make something pretty or nice; it had more gravity than that.”

Feman, who will soon step down from his position at the Chrysler Museum to become the Frist’s new executive director and CEO in April, co-curated the show with Jonathan Frederick Walz, director of curatorial affairs and curator of American art at the Columbus Museum in Columbus, Ga. They wanted the exhibition to showcase not only the larger narrative of Thomas’ life, but also the tenacious spirit of creativity and service she brought to everything she did.

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