Taft's Art Studio Creative Works of Morris Taft Thomas
Morris Taft Thomas & Joni Thomas Deville
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At the age of two, Thomas' family moved to Scotlandville, Louisiana. He attended Southern University Laboratory School in 1953 and completed undergraduate and graduate work at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He received the Bachelor of Arts degree in 1960 and Master of Education in Supervision and Administration in 1978, doing further study at Trinity University, McNeese State University, and Louisiana State University. Served on the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, board of directors, 1998-2002.
Thomas' teaching career began in Alexandria, Louisiana where he taught junior high school for twelve (12) years and was subsequently promoted to principal. He was a principal in the Rapides Parish School System for 25 years and adjunct professor of art hisory at Louisiana State University at Alexandria (LSUA). Thomas retired in 1997 after a thirty-seven year teaching career.
Thomas is competent in many mediums including-stone, wood, clay and paint. His subject matter is drawn from African art combined with an interest in his native Louisiana heritage. He has embraced this series, taking his cue from artists like Jacob Lawrence. The artist admits that he completes a minimum of ten works in each series, then moves on to another theme of interest.
Thomas has won numerous awards in sculpture and ceramics. In 2001, he was selected as a representative from Louisiana to make a Christmas ornament for the White House Christmas tree. Also, he was one of the few artists invited to the White House by President and Mrs. Bush. He was recipient of the 2008 Governor's Art Award, naming him Louisiana Professional Artist of the Year.
His work is in many public and private collections. Some of his public works are located at Grambling State University, The Alexandria Museum of. Art, Southern University Museum of Art, the Abbeville Museum of Art, the White House Archives, and the City of Alexandria.
Some private collectors include: B.B. King, The Honorable Nelson Mandela, the estate of Alex Haley, and Yolanda King. He has written numerous articles and books on art and is the author of Contributions of Negro Artists in Louisiana, 1972 and Eminent Black Artists in Louisiana, 1975. – Elouise Johnson, Curator SUMA