Nette Forné Thomas, President

Nette Forné Thomas.

Nette Forné Thomas grew up in the Silver Lake section of Belleville, NJ and attended Belleville public schools from Kindergarten through high school. She was one of the top ten students in her graduating class, achieving many academic honors and art awards. Because of her artistic achievements she was accepted to and attended Pratt Institute of Art in New York, later transferring to Montclair State University to major in art education. Her B.A. degree and a M.A. degree in administration and governance were attained there. She became a resident of Newark NJ where she began her teaching career.                   

For 36 years she was an art educator and arts administrator in the Newark Public School System.  She continued working simultaneously as an exhibiting artist. The art she produced ranged from portraits and figurative compositions to abstract explorations of line and spatial relationships. During her tenure she was awarded the Geraldine R. Dodge Visual Artist Educators Fellowship Grant.  This resulted in the writing and the artwork she created being selected for publication in “A Passion for Teaching”. A book edited by Scott McVay, the former director of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.

Her art has been exhibited in major shows on college campuses and in regional museums. It is included in the Rutgers University 40th anniversary perpetual virtual archival website of the Mary H. Dana Women Artists Series. Selected venues where her art has been exhibited include, the Studio Museum of Harlem in New York, the “Emerging and Established” exhibit at the Newark Museum, Newark, NJ, the Women’s Artists Series at Douglas College,  Essex County College, Seton Hall University, Passaic County Community College, Rutgers University, New Jersey City University, the College of Saint Elizabeth, Monmouth University, the Monmouth Museum, the Morris Museum,  Bloomfield College, Syracuse University,  Pen and Brush in New York, Newark Arts Exhibit at the Newark Museum, Art In The Atrium exbibits in Morristown, NJ., and Akwaaba Gallery in Newark NJ.  Nette was commissioned to create a work of art for a 27 feet tall and 11 feet wide mural for PSE&G which was installed on its building September 2023 at 405-425 University Avenue in Newark, NJ

Her artwork selected for the Women’s Caucus National Conference in New York is featured in the catalogs, “Stories We Tell”, and “Who’s afraid of Feminism.” 

Other works are shown in Unite Women.Org catalogs: “Voices, An Artist Perspective” and “Women’s Right: An Artist’s Perspective”, and in the Gutfreund Cornett exhibit catalogs, “What’s Right, What’s Left: Democracy in America”, and “Deadlocked and Loaded, Disarming America.”

In February 2020 her art was selected for “Collectively Shifting”, the Women’s Caucus for Art’s national exhibit in Chicago.

After retiring from education, Nette Forné Thomas began, in 2003, an association with Pen and Brush – a 129 years old, women’s visual arts and literary arts organization. She has held the office of elected president since 2010.  Additionally, she has been featured in multiple television segments of Maplewood’s Meet The Artist Series, and has also been a presenter for Indira Bailey’s Art Education and Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies at Claffin University in South Carolina. Other boards she has served on include the George Segal Gallery at Montclair University, the 1978 Arts Center in Maplewood, NJ, the Senior Advisory Council of Maplewood, NJ, as well as functioning in an advisory capacity to Art In The Atrium in Morristown, NJ. In 2013 she became an Honorary member of Gamma Xi Phi – a professional fraternity started in 2011 at Ramapo College in Mahwah, NJ, for artists and creators. She has since been appointed to the board of trustees for the 2023 -2025 term.  In 2018 Nette was presented with the Women’s History Month Community Service Award – as an Iconic Arts Visionary – by Women in Media – Newark. Other artistic endeavors involved curating and managing exhibits for various art organizations.  Among these were Passaic County Community College in Paterson, NJ, the Studio Montclair Gallery in Montclair, NJ., Art in the Atrium in Morristown, NJ, The Brennan Gallery in Jersey City, NJ as well as the 1978 Arts center in Maplewood, NJ.

There she has also selected and curated the artwork of renown artists for solo exhibits in celebration of  Black History Month. Some of these artists were, Chakaia Booker, Ben Jones, Emma Amos, Camille Billops, Bisa Washington, Don Miller and Victor Davson.

Nette has been a Maplewood resident for 47 years and is listed in “Maplewood Compendium – Notable People Places & Events ~1680-2022.”

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