Lava Thomas tackles issues of race, gender, representation and memorialization through a multidisciplinary practice that spans drawing, painting, photography, sculpture, and site-specific installations. Drawing from her family’s Southern roots, current socio-political events, intersectional feminism and African American protest and devotional traditions, Thomas’s practice centers ideas that amplify visibility, healing, and empowerment in the face of erasure, trauma and oppression.
Meet the Artist: Lava Thomas on "Requiem for Charleston" presented by the Smithsonian American Art Museum, November 2017
Resting Our Eyes
ICA San Francisco
January 21 – June 25, 2023
PRESS: The Cut
PRESS: Vanity Fair
PRESS: W Magazine
2022 FotoFocus Biennial: World Record
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Cincinnati, OH
In the exhibition ‘Free as they want to be: Artists Committed to Memory,’ curated by Deborah Willis
September 30, 2022 – March 6, 2023
Lava Thomas: Homecoming
Published in conjunction with the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts exhibition. Essay by Bridget R. Cooks.
“Lava Thomas’ new exhibition ‘Homecoming’ centers on Black History at the Spelman Museum of Fine Art” – City Lights with Lois Reitzes
Read + Listen HERE
Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
Mugshot Portraits: Women of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Eurett F. Adair [in the Smithsonian’s permanent collection, gift of Cheryl and Charles Ward] is on view in the ongoing exhibition Reckoning: Protest. Defiance. Resilience.
Past Exhibition Catalog
In Conversation: Lava Thomas + Hung Liu, October 9, 2020
Lava Thomas: In the Artist's Studio, June 17, 2020
Lava Thomas was born in Los Angeles, CA and is currently based in Berkeley, CA. She studied at UCLA’s School of Art Practice and received a BFA from California College of the Arts. Thomas is a 2019-2021 recipient of the Lucas Artists Fellowship Award at the Montalvo Arts Center and has participated in artist residencies at Facebook Los Angeles (2020), Headlands Center for the Arts (2018) and the Djerassi Resident Artist Program. She was a 2018 Artadia finalist and in 2015 received the Joan Mitchell Grant for Painters and Sculptors.
Thomas’s work is included in the National Portrait Gallery’s triennial exhibition, The Outwin 2019: American Portraiture Today. Her work has been exhibited in various institutions including the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C., the International Print Center, New York, NY; the Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco, CA; the Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco, CA; and the California African American Museum, Los Angeles, CA. Her work is held in the permanent collections of the United States Consulate General in Johannesburg, South Africa; the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY; the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA; the M.H. de Young Museum, San Francisco, CA and the Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley, CA. Thomas’s work has been written about in Artforum, Hyperallergic, SF Chronicle, The Guardian, KQED Arts, The Art Newspaper, and LA Weekly.