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Barbara Earl Thomas has been a leader in the arts community for a very long time. In addition to being a lauded award-winning artist, she is an accomplished writer, lecturer, arts administrator, public artist, and her work is among the celebrated collections found at Microsoft, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Seattle Art Museum, Portland Art Museum, 21 Century Museum Hotels, Western Washington State University, and Evergreen State College, to name just a few. Soon, her work will reside in the former Grace Hopper Hall at Yale University where she was commissioned to reimagine and redesign the stained glass windows of that renamed hall.

Her contributions to the arts and cultural fabric of multiple communities are deserving of countless bouquets, and in her home city of Seattle, she’s given us more gifts than we deserve.

Her recent Seattle Art Museum exhibit The Geography of Innocence can still be experienced through January 2022. The book that accompanies this exhibit co-authored by Thomas, Catharina Manchanda, and Halima Taha, notes, “At the heart lies a story of life and death, hope and resilience – a child’s survival.”

Holding Fire, 2020 by Barbara Earl Thomas

Barbara continues her inquiry into hope and resilience with her upcoming exhibit Packaged Black, October 2, 2021 – May 1, 2022, at The Henry Museum, as she joins artist Derek Adams to continue their shared dialogue about representation, Black identity, and practices of cultural resistance. The exhibition is described as, “a synthesis of a multi-year, intergenerational, and cross-country exchange between New York-based Adams and Seattle-based Thomas that began after the two artists exhibited work alongside each other in a group show at the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2017.”

As we anticipate a return to in-person arts gatherings, this exhibit is among the hot tickets being clamored after.

Because we cannot do reasonable justice to the life and work of Barbara Earl Thomas in these few paragraphs, we invite you to check out her work and bio at or take a listen to her talk about her career in her own words in this episode of the doubleXposure podcast recorded from her studio.

Barbara Earl Thomas, from the corners of museum exhibit halls to the halls of Ivy League universities, and from right here in your ‘hood, we SHOUT our enduring appreciation for the art you give!

Barbara Earl Thomas by Jovelle Tamayo for The New York Times


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