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Barbara Earl Thomas Receives 2016 Irving and Yvonne Twining Humber Award

For Immediate Release:


Brian McGuigan (he/him)

Program Director

206.467.8734 x23

1.866.21.TRUST (toll free)

Artist Trust is pleased to announce the recipient of the 2016 Irving and Yvonne Twining Humber Award, artist Barbara Earl Thomas. Thomas receives an unrestricted cash award of $10,000 in recognition of her creative excellence, professional accomplishment, and dedication to the arts.

A Seattle native, Thomas is a visual artist and a writer. She has exhibited her work for more than 30 years in exhibitions at prestigious institutions such as the Seattle Art Museum, Tacoma Art Museum, and Meadows Museum of Art, and her work is in important corporate collections, including Microsoft and Safeco. She is the recipient of numerous awards, such as a Mayor’s Arts Award in 2013 and the Howard S. Wright Award from the Seattle Arts Commission, and has completed residencies at Pilchuck, Tacoma Museum of Glass, and Hedgebrook. Her recent public art commissions include a laser-cut steel screen for Sound Transit and The Story House, a site-specific structure and a gateway for shared stories at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA. 

Thomas studied under painter Michael Spafford and his renowned colleague Jacob Lawrence where she is now an officer on the Jacob and Gwendolyn knight Lawrence Foundation, Board of Trustees. She works in many mediums and with many materials, including painting, glass, paper, metal, wood, and egg tempera. In addition to her work as a visual artist, Barbara is an author, administrator, fundraiser, advisor, and the former Executive Director of the Northwest African American Museum. In 2012, she left her post at NAAM to focus on her art. She is currently at work on new pieces for a solo exhibition at Bainbridge Island Museum of Art opening in June.

About her most recent work, Thomas says, “I say with confidence that I am creating the very best work of my career, right now.”

Three panelists – Jim Kolva, owner of Kolva-Sullivan Gallery (Spokane County), artist Bernadine Phillips (Okanogan County), and arts administrator and curator Leilani Lewis (King County) – reviewed Twining Humber Award applications from across Washington State. The panel convened at the offices of Spokane Arts, the first time Artist Trust held a selection panel outside of its Seattle office.

The Irving and Yvonne Twining Humber Award is an unrestricted award of $10,000 given annually to a Washington State self-identified woman visual artist, age 60 or over, who has dedicated 25 or more years of her life to creating art. The award was established by a generous gift to the Artist Trust Endowment by the late Yvonne Twining Humber. A practicing Washington State artist herself, Humber envisioned providing recognition to female artists who, oftentimes, have interrupted or postponed their art-making to answer the demands of family life.

For more information about Barbara Earl Thomas and examples of her work, click here.

About Artist Trust
Artist Trust is a nonprofit organization whose sole mission is to support and encourage individual artists working in all disciplines in order to enrich community life throughout Washington State. Since its founding in 1986, Artist Trust has invested over $10 million in individual artists through grant programs, and provides a comprehensive suite of professional development training and resources to help artists achieve their career goals. Learn more at