On April 24, 1966, Alma Thomas had her first retrospective exhibit at the Howard University. She showed Earth Paintings, a series of nature inspired abstract works, including Resurrection (1966) bought in 2014 for the White House collection. In her journals, she wrote
“color is life, for a world without color appears to us as dead” and “the rainbow is a symbol of peace”.
James Herring, Prof. Emeritus wrote the forewords of the catalog “Though it is a retrospective show, (…) I fully expect that her public (…) will demand yet another one-woman show in the next few years”.
For this exhibition, she had a supportive review in The Washington Post written by Helen Hoffman titled "colorful abstract reflects her spirit” and by artist and art historian Jacob Kainen.
In 1972 she was the first African-American woman to hold a solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art. She wrote that when she was a kid “one of the things we couldn’t do was go into museums, let alone think of hanging our pictures there. My, times have changed. Just look at me now.”
Sources: Archives of American Art: Alma W. Thomas: A Retrospective Exhibition, 1959-1966 (1966), Howard University Gallery of Art, 1966
Alma W. Thomas: A Retrospective of the Paintings
Alma resurrection, 2020, Acrylic on canvas, 24" x 18" (61x 46 cm)