Drawn to Art: Ten Tales of Inspiring Women Artists. “Beneath the Holly Tree: A Comic About Alma Thomas,” 2021, Courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum; Illustrated by Lauren Lamb.

Drawn to Art: Ten Tales of Inspiring Women Artists

Last year, the Smithsonian American Art Museum tasked 10 burgeoning women illustrators from Ringling College of Art and Design to reimagine the lives of ten well-known artists—in comic form. The resulting exhibit, Drawn to Art: Ten Tales of Inspiring Women Artists, shows the stories, struggles, and successes of visionaries who created even as their lives and work frequently went underappreciated or unrecognized. The comics range in style, from the kaleidoscopic and fuchsia-filled “Portrait: A Comic About Mickalene Thomas” by Shayna Cohen to the sketchy and monochromatic “Do You Think I’m Hiding? A Comic About Romaine Brooks” by Abigail Rajunov. The collection coincides with the city’s ongoing celebration of Alma W. Thomas and her abstract, colorful designs. Be sure to check out Lauren Lamb’s joyful “Beneath the Holly Tree: A Comic About Alma Thomas,” which traces the artist’s life, with special attention paid to her mentorship from Howard University’s James V. Herring, who helped Thomas become the first person to graduate from the school’s art department in 1924. Thomas, who took inspiration from the forms and colors found in nature, painted expressive, flowy designs that captured her sense of awe—something she held on to, even in a racially segregated world that tried to minimize her and her work. “A world without color would seem dead,” the comic reads. “Color is life. Light is mother of color. Light reveals to us the spirit and the living soul of the world through colors.” The exhibition is ongoing and can be viewed online at Smithsonian American Art Museum’s website. americanart.si.edu. Free.

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