Bowdoin College Museum of Art

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2003.28

Artist

Alma Woodsey Thomas

Title

Double Cherry Blossoms

Creation Date

1973

Century

late 20th century

Dimensions

60 in. x 40 1/8 in. (152.4 cm x 101.92 cm)

Object Type

painting

Creation Place

North America, American

Medium and Support

acrylic on canvas

Credit Line

Gift of halley k harrisburg, Class of 1990, and Michael Rosenfeld

Copyright

This artwork may be under copyright. For further information, please consult the Museum’s Copyright Terms and Conditions.

Accession Number

2003.28
Alma Woodsey Thomas’s intense and searching exploration of the figure-ground relationship in her late paintings has led critics and scholars to liken these compositions to screens and lattices. In his influential book The Souls of Black Folk (1903), activist and author W. E. B. Du Bois famously employed an analogous symbol — “the veil”—to approximate what he termed the “double consciousness” of African Americans. “For Du Bois,” scholar Howard Winant explains, “the veil is a complex metaphor for the dynamics of race. It represents both barrier and connection between white and black. Imagine it as a filmy fabric, a soft and semitransparent border marker, that both keeps the races apart and mediates between them.” These dynamics play out, albeit metaphorically, across the surface of this canvas. The allover array of nearly monochromatic brushstrokes set starkly against a plain background generously offers the viewer the phenomenological equivalent of “double consciousness”—of being othered—with all the responsibilities toward our fellow human beings that follow from such an epiphanic encounter. Jonathan Frederick Walz Director of Curatorial Affairs and Curator of American Art, Columbus Museum, Columbus, Georgia

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