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Gouma-Peterson, Thalia

    Image Credit: Wikipedia

    Full Name: Gouma-Peterson, Thalia

    Other Names:

    • Thalia Gouma-Peterson

    Gender: female

    Date Born: 20 June 1933

    Date Died: 2001

    Place Born: Athens, Region of Attica, Greece

    Place Died: Oberlin, Lorain, OH, USA

    Home Country/ies: United States

    Subject Area(s): Byzantine (culture or style), feminism, and Medieval (European)

    Institution(s): College of Wooster


    Professor of Art at the College of Wooster, feminist and Byzantine art historian, and former director of the college’s museum. Thalia Gouma-Peterson was born in Athens, Greece in November, 1933 to Sophia Bitzanis and Lambros Groumas. She attended Arsakeion, Athens and Pierce College, Helleniko for her elementary and secondary education, respectively. She received her junior college diploma from Pierce College in 1952. Following this, Gouma-Peterson came to the United States as a Fullbright scholar. She attended Mills College from 1952 to 1957, receiving both her B.A. and M.A.

    Influenced by her professors Horlbeck, Watrous, and Barkere, Gouma-Peterson received her Ph.D. from UW Madison in 1964. Her thesis, entitled “The Frescoes of the Parecclesion of St. Euthymios in Thessalonica: An Iconographic and Stylistic Analysis,” began her lifelong fascination with Byzantine art and culture. After being appointed as a professor at the College of Wooster, she moved to Oberlin in 1958 with her husband Carl Peterson.

    Gouma-Peterson was a professor at the College of Wooster for 32 years. Throughout her time there, particularly during the 1980’s, at the College of Wooster, Gouma-Peterson showcased contemporary female artists, like Faith Ringgold, Audrey Flack, and Hung Liu.

    Her passion for the art of Miriam Schapiro began in 1977 at the College Art Association meetings in Los Angeles. Gouma-Peterson attended a panel entitled “The Decorative in Contemporary Painting” with Miriam Schapiro. Drawn to her two works, Lady Gengi’s Maze and Anatomy of a Kimono, Gouma-Peterson then introduced herself to Schapiro, beginning a lifelong friendship. Due to their close relationship, Gouma-Peterson has been able to see the changes in the art of Schapiro, often visiting her in New York and East Hampton. A year later, at the Board meeting of the Women’s Caucus for Art of CAA and in her studio, Gouma-Peterson decided to begin working with Schapiro on creating an exhibition at the College of Wooster. In 1980, Gouma-Peterson completed her work Miriam Schapiro, A Retrospective: 1953-1980. She used this piece as a catalog for the exhibition. This work included essays from other leading art historians, namely Linda Nochlin, Norma Broude, John Perreault, Paula Bradley, and Ruth A. Appelhof. The exhibition was later shared with eight other museums, expanding its scope outside New York. In 1990, Gouma-Peterson began working on her most well-known work, Miriam Schapiro: Shaping the Fragments of Art and Life. While researching the work, she consulted with Schapiro. Gouma-Peterson received her notebooks, consisting of more than 100, as resources throughout her writing process. Gouma-Peterson worked under the direction of Executive Director of the Polk Museum in Lakeland, Florida, Daniel E. Stetson.
    In 2000, Gouma-Peterson wrote her last work, entitled Anne Komnene and Her Times cataloging a collection of letters by a 12th century Byzantine princess and author. Throughout her career, Gouma-Peterson was featured in a number of other art history works. Additionally, she served as a member of the College Art Association. She retired emerita. Gouma-Peterson died on June 20, 2001 of complications from ovarian cancer.

    Selected Bibliography

    • “The Frescoes of the Paracclesion of St. Euthymios in Thessalonica: An Iconographic and Stylistic Analysis (Volumes One and Two)” Order No. 6410290, The University of Wisconsin – Madison, 1964;
    • Miriam Schapiro, A Retrospective: 1953-1980;
    • Miriam Schapiro: Shaping the Fragments of Art and Life. New York City: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Publishers (1999);
    • Anne Komnene and Her Times. Oxfordshire: Routledge, 2000.


    Contributors: Kerry Rork


    Kerry Rork. "Gouma-Peterson, Thalia." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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