Object Image

White Roses Sing and Sing

White Roses Sing and Sing is non-representational yet strongly evocative of the natural world. Translucent pale forms float over a background of shifting green and yellow-a luminous image perhaps related to Thomas's memories of her childhood home in Columbus, Georgia, in a neighborhood called Rose Hill. She once remarked that it "was rightly named because roses bloomed there almost the year round." She also recalled that as a child exploring the outdoors she heard "singing [and] talking sounds in all things."

Gallery Label

An expert colorist who became more daring and innovative with age, Thomas here departs from bright, high-keyed hues to create an all-over, mosaic-like pattern of pale forms set within a shifting array of verdant green and yellow. Her late-in-life dedication to abstraction came at a time when many other African American painters sought to engage social and racial issues through figuration and narrative. By contrast, Thomas's work was inspired by the hues and forms of nature. White Roses Sing and Sing is non-representational, emphasizing abstract color and shape, yet strongly evocative of the natural world. Thomas's observation of the flora surrounding her in Washington, DC -- from the roses in her backyard to the azalea blooms at the National Arboretum -- was a key inspiration for her art. She even suggested Wind, Sunshine, and Flowers as an apt title for a book about her life.

Credit: Bequest of the artist

Acrylic on canvas
184.1 x 133.0cm
Image and text: Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2024

Where you'll find this

Deepen your knowledge