Alma Thomas was born on this day in 1891. Thomas’s abstract compositions are derived from observations of nature. For her painting Mars Dust (center), the artist used the dust storms that occur on the red planet as the touchstone for the all-over composition. In 1972, the same year that she made the work, Thomas became the first African American woman to have a solo exhibition at the Whitney. 

Installation view of America Is Hard to See (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, May 1–September 27, 2015). Photography by Ronald Amstutz

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