The White House Historical Association (WHHA), the nonpartisan organization that preserves the history of the White House, has readied its first NFT. Set to be part of PROOF Collective’s Grails II season, this marks the first time that a NFT marketplace, Iconic Moments, has participated in the Grails program and WHHA’s NFT debut.
What’s the NFT?
The NFT is one of 25 pieces in the Grails II collection, a series of original NFT artworks from diverse artists around the world. Titled “Sparrows Do Not Fear The Sun,” the digital work was created by multimedia artist Linda Dounia, who used mediums from collage to AI to offer an interpretation of the painting “Resurrection” by Alma Thomas.
“Resurrection” was painted by Thomas in 1966. Done in her signature abstracted style, the painting consists of energetic circles emanating from a center, shaping a sunburst. Thomas was the first Black female artist to have a solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1972, before “Resurrection” was acquired by the White House Collection in 2015. It is the first work from an African-American woman to be added to the collection and was hung in the building’s Old Family Dining Room by First Lady Michelle Obama.
PROOF members that mint Rebeiz’s work during the Grails II minting window will receive a physical Alma Thomas print and a soul-bound token to commemorate the collaboration. Any proceeds will likely benefit WHHA and its ongoing work.
What is Grails by PROOF?
PROOF is a private, members-only collective of NFT collectors and artists (and Moonbirds holders). Launched in March 2022, the platform’s Grails collection is an exclusive mint for members. Each Grails piece is created as a unique work in collaboration with outstanding artists working in the NFT space. During the open minting window — when the collection drops — artist identities remain anonymous. Post-mint, PROOF hosts a live streaming event to reveal the artist’s identities.
“By hiding the artist’s name until post-mint,” Chris Cummings, CEO and Founder of Iconic Moments, tells us, “the mechanics of the release really shifted collector dynamics and sparked incredible conversations about the artwork and artists involved.”
The artists for Grails II were revealed on August 25. In addition to Dounia, this season features works by Refik Anadol, Tom Sachs, DRIFT, and Emily Xie, among others.
Why it matters
Notably, WHHA has chosen to center its first NFT release on the first painting by a Black woman artist to be acquired by the association. The move refreshes the organization’s stated mission of “enhancing the understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment of the Executive Mansion” by finding new ways for its collection to be experienced and discovered.
Additionally, Dounia’s participation is significant, offering not just a contemporary perspective, but much-needed representation in a NFT art space where the number of Black and women artists remains small. Dounia has managed to make a living as a full-time artist on the back of her digital art sales, but understands the historical resonance of Thomas’ painting. “No work is a vacuum,” she reflected. “She’s a black woman. I’m a black woman. Alma’s story could have been my story if I hadn’t gotten lucky.”
What they said
“We see this as a one-of-a-kind opportunity to support and tell the story of Alma Thomas’ stunning artwork, while also lifting up and highlighting the work of a modern, Black female artist through Linda Dounia Rebeiz’s digital interpretation.” — Colleen Shogan, Senior Vice President, WHHA
“Thomas is a world-renowned artist and painter who founded one of the first black-owned private galleries in the nation. She was also the first graduate of Howard University’s Department of Art. However, like far too many artists, Thomas didn’t find recognition for her work until the very last few years of her life. With Grails II, we wanted to bring awareness to Alma’s work and highlight an amazing digital artist. Iconic, PROOF, and the WHHA all agreed that Linda Dounia Rebeiz was the perfect artist to pay homage to Alma Thomas’s legacy.” — Chris Cummings, CEO and Founder, Iconic Moments