Visitors enjoy the 2011 MFA Graduate Exhibition at the Winery SF on Treasure Island.

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EXCLUSIVE ADVANCE SCREENING » Mickalene Thomas: Happy Birthday to a Beautiful Woman
Thursday, October 3, 2013 - 12:00pm
800 Chestnut Street
Lecture Hall
San Francisco Art Institute
800 Chestnut Street
San Francisco,

Internationally acclaimed artist Mickalene Thomas will be screening her first film HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN—in advance of the official premier—Thursday, October 3, at noon, in the Chestnut Street Lecture Hall. This is a rare opportunity to see the first film created by an artist whose intricately rendered, multimedia paintings and installations have heralded international acclaim.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN, is a celebration of Thomas’s mother, Sandra Bush. Thomas started working with her mother as muse in 2000 when Thomas was in graduate school at Yale University. She began by photographing Sandra at home in New Jersey. Since then her mother’s portrait has appeared in several bodies of her work—in paintings, photographs, and video.

On her inspiration for the film, Thomas has noted her mother’s illness before she passed away, commenting that, “I want[ed] to[…] use my mother in my work as a way to investigate and grasp the understanding of beauty and failure. She is 6’1” and modeled for most of her life. I’ve heard her tell the story of how Iman stole her spotlight; it’s been a black cloud over my mother for many years, and I feel that her participation in my work encourages and inspires her. Despite her great beauty, my mother, like anyone else, has had to confront failure many times in her life and is now learning to cope with the failure of her own body. I want my work to represent her in the reality of who she is, but I also want to capture her strength and beauty.”

The 24-minute film explores Sandra’s memories and dreams, her life experiences, including her personal struggles and illness, and her hopes for the present and future. Her interviews are filled with poignancy; old photographs and recordings of Sandra singing with her family add texture to this intimate portrait of “Mama Bush.”