On “Alma W. Thomas: Everything Is Beautiful”

Karen Wilkin at The New Criterion:

Her continued experimentation on paper notwithstanding, beginning in the late 1960s, Thomas seems to have concentrated on all-over paintings constructed with regular, rhythmic patches of color chained into vertical bands, concentric circles, or off-kilter “narratives,” such as the series of “Earth and Space Paintings,” made in the early 1970s and inspired by the space program. A catalogue essay notes, fashionably, that Thomas began to make her ambitious abstractions at a time when “environmentalism and environmental justice” were gaining attention. “While making no direct reference to either movement,” we are told, “her work nonetheless internalized—at a structural level—the tension between universal environmental values and community concerns.” It’s hard to reconcile this with Thomas’s frankness about having found triggers for paintings in the exploration of outer space or with her frequent citation of the contrasting rings of color in formal flower beds as the source of her own dotted rings (which are impossible not to associate, as well, with Noland’s circle paintings).

more here.