By Jacqueline Belden, West Wyandotte Library Youth Services Supervisor

It’s February, which means it’s time to celebrate Black History Month! Each February in the United States (and a few other countries!), we take time to celebrate the amazing contributions of Black Americans to American history, and to reflect on the struggle and sacrifice of the Black community from the founding of the United States to the present.

For Homeschool Tuesday, February 9, 2021, we will celebrate Black art history by learning about and creating art inspired by Black painter Alma Woodsey Thomas!

Alma Woodsey Thomas (1891-1978) was a pioneer for Black women in art; she became the first Black woman to have an art exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City, and she was also the first Black woman to have her paintings displayed in the public spaces at the White House (by President Barack Obama!). Thomas was also Howard University’s very first fine arts graduate. Thomas’ career as an artist didn’t truly begin until she was 75 years old, when she retired from teaching and began exhibiting her abstract paintings at Howard in 1966! Click here for more information like this from Thomas’ artist profile from the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Watch the video below to learn more about Thomas’ life.

Listen to these contemporary Black artists, painter Sam Gilliam and installation artist Rashid Johnson, discuss what inspires their work and their experiences as Black men in art.

Feeling inspired yet? Click here to view some of Alma Woodsey Thomas’ paintings at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Thomas’ earlier paintings were heavily inspired by nature. Can you see natural elements in her paintings? After the lunar landing in 1969, Thomas used space for inspiration.

It’s your turn to try a painting in the style of Alma Woodsey Thomas! What will you use to inspire your painting? Use the guide in your take-home kit (available at West Wyandotte Library starting February 9; click here to sign up!) and the canvas, paints, and brush to create a colorful painting of your own!

Didn’t sign up for a Homeschool Tuesday kit and want to try this at home? Pick up your paper collage kit at West Wyandotte Library starting February 16, 2021 (limited time only!) and try the video tutorial below: this step-by-step art lesson uses colored paper to create a collage inspired by Alma Woodsey Thomas!

If you participated in this activity, take a picture of you and your work of art and send it to jbelden@kckpl.org or tag us on social media so we can admire your amazing work (@kckpubliclibrary on Instagram or @Kansas City, Kansas Public Library on Facebook)!