Seattle Art Museum Brings A Hometown Artist’s Work To Light


barbara earl thomas painting


For over 30 years, nationally renowned artist Barbara Earl Thomas has explored the intersection of storytelling and identity through her paper-cut, glass and steel installations. This year, Thomas’ hometown of Seattle mounts a major new exhibition of her work in “Barbara Earl Thomas: The Geography of Innocence” at the Seattle Art Museum, on view through November 14.

This is your first major museum show in Seattle. Yes—this has been a quintessential moment of sharing with my community the work I’ve shown mostly outside Washington. 

What was your goal with the exhibition? I wanted to create a transformative environment where viewers could physically walk inside my ideas, experiencing the light and shadow of my illuminated world. They move through a landscape and see the familiar—in this case, the face of child—but with new eyes. 

What do you hope viewers will take away? I’m always searching for emotional common ground so viewers might allow something new into their reality—even if it shakes their feeling of security. I want to show viewers that if you risk it, if your heart can bear to look closer, you can win something unimaginable. It’s about entering the mystery of the risk.