Portrait drawing by Lava Thomas

Lava Thomas

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.

Play Video
Meet the Artist: Lava Thomas on "Requiem for Charleston" presented by the Smithsonian American Art Museum, November 2017

Selected Work


Group Exhibition

Next to You

McEvoy Foundation for the Arts, San Francisco

Through December 4, 2021
PRESS: 48hills

Group Exhibition

The Black Index

Presented by UC Irvine University Art Gallery / curated by Bridget R. Cookes. [Traveling through 2022]

Next up:
Art Galleries at Black Studies, University of Texas at Austin Opening September 16

PRESS: LA Weekly
PRESS: Hyperallergic

Group Exhibition

New Time: Art and Feminisms in the 21st Century

Berkeley Museum and
Pacific Film Archive

Through January 30, 2022

Exhibition details HERE

Museum Acquisition

Smithsonian Institution: The National Museum of African American History and Culture

Mugshot Portraits: Women of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Eurett F. Adair [gift of Cheryl and Charles Ward]

Honoree + Museum Acquisition

The Studio Museum in Harlem

Thomas’ Mugshot Portraits: Women of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Annie Patterson was selected for inclusion in the American Academy of Arts and Letters Art Purchase Program and has been acquired by the Studio Museum in Harlem. 

Past Exhibition Catalog


In Conversation: Lava Thomas + Hung Liu, October 9, 2020
Lava Thomas: In the Artist's Studio, June 17, 2020