Blast Off, 1970

Display Status:

This object is not on display at the National Air and Space Museum. It is either on loan or in storage.

Collection Item Summary:

Alma Thomas (1891–1978) was born in Columbus, Georgia, though as a teenager her family moved to Washington, D.C., seeking better educational opportunities and an escape from racial oppression and violence. Thomas would live in Washington, D.C. for the rest of her life and was deeply ingrained within the art circles and movements of the city. After graduating from Howard University with a degree in fine arts and earning a master of arts degree from the Teachers College at Columbia University in New York, Thomas became a public school teacher. It was only when she retired that Thomas was able to devote all her time to art and achieve widespread recognition. In this period, she developed her mosaic-like abstractionist style. Her works were inspired by nature: the fragmentary glance of a tree through her window, or the ground streaking by from an airplane. Thomas was also fascinated with outer space, as she believed it was an extension of the nature she saw and loved around her. Through her space art, Thomas sought to unite mankind in universal appreciation of beauty, imparting as she said: “beauty, joy, love, and peace.”