NORFOLK, Va. -- When you think of painters, the names Van Gogh, Picasso and Bob Ross might come to mind, but get ready to add the name Alma Thomas to that list.
Thomas' paintings are coming to the Chrysler Museum of Art. Her work will be part of a gallery called Alma W. Thomas: Everything is Beautiful.
The Chrysler Museum of Art will be one of several museums displaying her paintings. According to the National Museum of Women in the Arts, her work has also been displayed at the White House.
Seth Feman, the Chrysler Museum's deputy for art and interpretation, said if you don't know Thomas’ work, then be prepared to be amazed.
"Visitors are just going to come in and they're going to be bedazzled, because if you're not familiar with her work, they're eye-poppingly beautiful, they're so colorful and so bright,” Feman explained. “They evoke a kind of cheer which really is at the core of who this artist was. She was full of life and love and you see it in the paintings."
Like many artists, Thomas had a humble beginning -- born in rural Georgia, she started to dabble in art when she was 15. She graduated from Howard University's newly formed art school at the time.
She would go on to be a high school teacher in Washington D.C., but it was after she retired that she started to paint even more until her death in 1978. Thomas’ work would also go on to be recognized globally.
Feman said he wrote his dissertation on her in school. He added that he hopes Thomas becomes a widely-known name.
“I want Alma Thomas to be a household name. When you think of five artists, I want her name to be the first to come to mind,” Feman said. “She had such an impressive career and achieved so many accomplishments in her lifetime."
The gallery opens on Friday, July 9, and goes until October 3.
The Chrysler Museum of Art is located on One Memorial Place and in front of the corner of Duke Street and Olney Road in the Ghent section of Norfolk. Admission is free.