Suzanne Hudson

  • Alma Thomas

    A 2015 PHOTOGRAPH of the Obama family’s Passover seder evokes an irrevocably lost world. In it, we see Alma Thomas’s painting Resurrection, 1966, hanging in the White House dining room. This buoyant artwork was the first by an African American woman to be displayed as part of the permanent White House collection. Tastes and regimes change, but Resurrection now enjoys a position of institutional intransigence—if not assured visibility—in this mansion, which was, as the former first lady reminded us, built by slaves.

    The image gains added resonance in light of Thomas’s biography. She was born