Judy Thomas began her formal art studies at the University of Iowa where she majored in painting, drawing and printmaking.  In her junior year, Thomas was one of 30 art students from around the country selected to study at the Yale Summer School of Art at Norfolk.   Upon her return, she rejected representation and pursued abstraction.  Her early abstract work was influenced by a course she took in Astronomy with the late Dr. James Van Allen in 1982, her senior year at Iowa.  That same year, the mathematician Mandelbrot published The Fractal Geometry of Nature.  She was also studying electronic music at the time, and did a series of paintings and prints based on Brian Eno’s Music for Airports.   These early studies have continued to inform her work.

After receiving her BFA from Iowa, Judy Thomas travelled to Paris with a fellowship from the Fondation des Etats-Unis to study with renowned printmaker S.W. Hayter at Atelier 17.  She was one of the last generations of artists to work at Hayter’s studio, and enjoyed his stories about the famous artists who had worked with him, including Miro, Giacometti, Klee, Picasso, Rothko and Pollack.  Hayter taught a surrealist creative practice called automatic drawing or automatism. Starting with one curved line, each consecutive line is an intuitive 'reaction' rather than an intellectual 'decision'.

After Paris, Judy Thomas lived in West Germany for three years, and then moved to New York City to attend graduate school at Hunter College.  After completing her MFA in Painting in 1988, she joined the mass exodus of young artists to Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  The pioneering, renegade spirit of the early 90's helped to shape the direction of Thomas’ art, and she began to create temporary, large scale sculptural works in abandoned warehouse spaces along the waterfront in Brooklyn. 

Judy Thomas’ work has been shown at The Arsenal Center for the Arts, Brandeis University, the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, and galleries and museums in the U.S., Europe and Japan.  In 2015, Judy Thomas won an Individual Artist Commission grant from Arts Mid-Hudson for her community-responsive piece MATRIX:RENEWAL. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Time Out New York, The Detroit News, Huffington Post, the Mid-Hudson Times and in the Times Herald Record.  Her 2017 one-person show at Space Create gallery was well received and featured her latest painting series entitled ‘Mapping’, loosely inspired by the 1982 film Koyaanisqatsi and in which she started each painting with her own version of automatism. 

Judy Thomas lives and works in Newburgh, NY.