Through her immersive drawing installations and painstaking attention to detail, Lava Thomas creates opportunities to celebrate the beauty of African American life. Lava Thomas: Homecoming brings three bodies of her work together for the first time, Looking Back and Seeing Now (2015–2021), Mugshot Portraits: Women of the Montgomery Bus Boycott (2018–), and Decatur (2022). These works demonstrate Thomas’s dedication to exploring personal and cultural narratives of survival and bravery against the odds. 


The visual representation of the Mugshot Portraits offers a different framework for looking at the women boycotters. It is an opportunity to see the women who led and participated in the boycott revered in a place of honor instead of within the justice system that criminalized their stand for equality. Looking Back and Seeing Now and Decatur are based on Thomas’s exploration of her family’s archival materials. Like the Mugshot Portraits, these works visualize the importance of photography, portraiture, and history, further demonstrating her commitment to making the past part of the present.


This at Spelman Museum exhibition is made possible by The Wish Foundation.


Opening reception Friday, August 26, 2022, 5-7pm. RSVP here