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Thelma Johnson Streat

Painter, Dancer, Illustrator, and Educator

Thelma Johnson Streat (1911-1959) was a ground-breaking African American painter, dancer, illustrator, and educator.  Here are a few of Ms. Streat’s accomplishments:

   *  Worked with Mexican muralist Diego Rivera on his Pan American Unity mural in San Francisco (1939)

   *  First African-American woman to have a painting collected by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. (1942)

  *  Performed a dance recital at Buckingham Palace for the King and Queen of England. (1950)

   *  At age 18 years, received honorable mention in the Harmon Foundation Awards and had work exhibited at the International House in New York City. (1930)

   *  Started the Children’s City Art School of Hawaii to teach children the value of cultural diversity utilizing art. (1952)

   *  Headed the Children’s Education Project to introduce American youth to the contributions of Black Americans through a series of colorful murals. (1940s)

   *  She was one of the first visual artists to perform interpretive dance in front of her art, adding dimensions of motion, energy, and animation to otherwise static forms.


World personalities who have owned her work include Vincent Price, Roland Hayes, Diego Rivera, Fanny Brice, Katherine Dunham, and Paulette Goddard, etc.


Streat Dancer Front View.jpg

 -- Streat News --


Visit the Portland Art Museum to see Black Artists of Oregon, which captures the Black Experience unique to the Pacific Northwest and showcases 69 artists and 200+ objects. Artists included in the exhibition: Thelma Johnson Streat, Al Goldsby, Charlotte Lewis, Isaka Shamsud-Din, Ralph Chessé, Charles Tatum, Arvie Smith, Shedrich Williames, Harrison Branch, Bobby Fouther, and Carrie Mae Weems, among others.

Streat's mural study was purchased for the permanent collection at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, art, history, and culture. 



Powerful video by Emily Hamilton titled, “Thelma Johnson Streat - How to Fight Prejudice with a Paintbrush”

The History Detectives Investigate! View a feature episode on some mysterious artwork by Thelma Johnson Streat on the popular PBS television program.



Artwork is available from Ms. Streat's own Johnson Collection. Contact The Thelma Johnson Streat Project for details. 



Seattle Times article or The Skanner article (October 2016) on Streat's work at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC).

Read about Ms. Streat in the 2010 publication “Modern Women: Women Artists at the Museum of Modern Art” (MOMA). Packing a whopping 528 pages, you can learn more about all the great modern female artists. 


Look for us on Facebook and find out all of the latest Thelma-related happenings at THELMA ON FACEBOOK and join in the conversation.


THE THELMA JOHNSON STREAT PROJECT was organized in 1991 to:

      (1) research Streat's life and work;
     (2) distribute information on the artist, her life and various avenues of creativity;
     (3) care for The Johnson Collection and make selected works available to museums and galleries for exhibits;
    (4) promote Streat's ideals through sharing her story with others.


Interested in learning more about the life and work of Thelma Johnson Streat?


Request your FREE information packet using the Contact Us page.


You may contact the Project by mail or email. Our mailing address is:

             The Thelma Johnson Streat Project

              P.O. Box 834

              Lake Oswego, OR 97034

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