Black Women Abstract Artists

Alma Thomas
Alma Woodsey Thomas (September 22, 1891 – February 24, 1978) was an African-American Expressionist painter and art educator best known for her colorful abstract paintings. She lived and worked primarily in Washington, D.C., and The Washington Post described her as a force in the Washington Color School. Thomas remains an influence to young and old as she was a cornerstone for the Fine Arts at Howard University, started a successful art career later in her life, and took major strides during times of segregation as an African-American female artist. Thomas believed that creativity should be independent of gender or race, creating works with a focus on accidental beauty and the abstraction of color. 

In 2015, her paintings, Resurrection (1966), was prominently hung in the Old Family Dining Room of the White House, having been acquired for the White House collection in 2014 with $290,000 in funding from the White House Historical Association. It was "the first artwork by an African-American woman to hang in the public spaces of the White House and enter the permanent collection.


Shinique Smith
Shinique Smith (born January 9, 1971) is an American visual artist, known for her colorful installation art and paintings that incorporate found textiles and collage materials.She is based in Brooklyn, New York. Smith combines fine art media with text, bright colors, and found objects, such as stuffed animals and clothing.She began to include used clothing in her work after reading a New York Times Magazine article about secondhand garments shipped to Africa from thrift stores. She describes her process as a personal one: "It all begins with emotion, an expression and I allow myself to go on a journey in the making of each work, a journey of associations between object and color, between lyrics and fabric, between the viewer and me." 

Shinique Smith received a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award in 2013, The Maryland Institute College of Art's Alumni Medal of Honor in 2012, and a Joan Mitchell Prize in 2008. Smith's work is included in several prestigious permanent collections, including the Ackland Art Museum, Brooklyn Museum, Denver Art Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Palmer Museum of Art, The Rubell Family Collection, Miami; and the Whitney Museum of American Art. She is represented by David Castillo Gallery, Miami.


Mildred Thompson
Mildred Jean Thompson (March 12, 1936 – September 1, 2003) was an American artist who worked in the media of painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture and photography. She was also a writer and, beginning in 1987, was an associate editor for the magazine Art Papers in Atlanta, Georgia. Critics have related her art to West African textiles and Islamic architecture; they have also cited German Expressionism, music (both American jazz and classical European music) and Thompson's readings in astronomy, spiritualism and metaphysics as important artistic influences.

Thompson's work is in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Brooklyn Museum; and Howard University, Washington, DC, among others.


Julie Mehretu
Julie Mehretu (born in 1970) is an American contemporary visual artist, known for her multi-layered paintings of abstracted landscapes on a large scale. Her paintings, drawings, and prints depict the cumulative effects of urban sociopolitical changes. Mehretu is included in Time magazine 's 100 Most Influential People of 2020.

Mehretu's canvases incorporate elements from technical drawings of a variety of urban buildings and linear illustrations of urban efficiency, including city grids and weather charts.The pieces do not contain any formal, consistent sense of depth, instead utilizing multiple points of view and perspective ratios to construct flattened re-imaginings of city life. 

Mehretu's works are held in the collections of the Minneapolis Institute of Art, Museum of Modern Art, Brooklyn Museum, Carnegie Museum of Art, Walker Art Center, Studio Museum in Harlem, and the San Diego Museum of Art.


Howardena Pindell
Howardena Pindell (born April 4, 1943) is an American painter and mixed media artist. Her work explores texture, color, structures, and the process of making art; it is often political, addressing the intersecting issues of racism, feminism, violence, slavery, and exploitation. She is known for the wide variety of techniques and materials used in her artwork; she has created abstract paintings, collages, "video drawings," and "process art." 

In 1967, Pindell began working in the Art's Education Department at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City, later moving on to a curatorial position in the Department of Prints and Illustrated Books. She would continue to work at MoMA for the next 12 years (until 1979) in a variety of capacities, including exhibit assistant, curatorial assistant, and associate curator.

In 1972, Pindell co-founded the A.I.R. Gallery, which was the first artist-directed gallery for women artists in the United States.There were twenty artist cofounders, including Nancy Spero, Agnes Denes, Barbara Zucker, Dotty Attie, Judith Bernstein, Harmony Hammond, Maude Boltz, Louise Kramer, and others. The gallery allowed women artists to curate their own exhibitions, allowing them the freedom to take risks with their work in ways that commercial galleries would not.

By 1977 she was associate curator of MoMA's department of Prints and Illustrated Books. She continued to spend her nights creating her own pieces. Currently, Pindell is a professor of art at Stony Brook University, where she has taught since 1979.She was a visiting professor in the art department at Yale University from 1995-1999. Pindell's art is in more than 30 museum collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Gallery of Art, Brooklyn Museum of Art. 


Mary Lovelace O’Neal
Mary Lovelace O'Neal (born February 10, 1942) is an American artist and arts educator. Her work is focused on abstracted mixed-media (primarily painting and printmaking) and minimalism. She is a Professor Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley and retired from teaching in 2006. O'Neal's art has been exhibited widely throughout North America and internationally, with group and solo shows in Italy, France, Chile, Senegal and Nigeria. She lives and works in Oakland, California, and maintains a studio in Chile.

Mary Lovelace O'Neal's paintings have progressed through different phases over her long career, beginning with loose forms and evolving to more precise patterns. O'Neal has received numerous awards and exhibited in many national and international exhibitions throughout her career. She was invited as resident artist to participate in the international arts festival in Asilah, Morocco, in 1983. O'Neal curated an exhibition for the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Santiago, Chile, "17 Artistas Latino y Afro Americanos en USA" in 1991. Two years later, she received the Artist En France Award sponsored by the French government and Moet & Chandon. In 2005, she was selected to represent Mississippi in the Committees Exhibition at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C.

Her work is in various permanent art collections including Oakland Museum of California, National Gallery of Art, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Smithsonian Institutions, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Oakland Museum of California, and the National Museum of Fine Arts, Santiago, Chile.

All biographies via Wikipedia