Alma Woodsey Thomas was an African-American artist and teacher who lived and worked in Washington, D.C., and is now recognized as a major American painter of the 20th century. Thomas is best known for the "exuberant", colorful, abstract paintings that she created after her retirement from a 35-year career teaching art at Washington's Shaw Junior High School.
Thomas, who is often considered a member of the Washington Color School of artists but alternatively classified by some as an Expressionist, she earned her teaching degree from University of the District of Columbia and was the first graduate of Howard University's Art department, and maintained connections to that university through her life. She achieved success as an African-American female artist despite the segregation and prejudice of her time.
Thomas's reputation has continued to grow since her death. Her paintings are displayed in notable museums and collections, and they have been the subject of several books and solo museum exhibitions. In 2021, a museum sold Thomas's painting Alma's Flower Garden in a private transaction for $2.8 million.