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Stories about breaking out, breaking free, and bringing people together through the power of action, strength, hope and joy.

Alma W. Thomas was an overnight success, 80 years in the making. Born a generation after slavery, Alma Woodsey Thomas grew up in the South, in a home where education was a priority. At 16, with racial tensions high and no further schooling options, her family moved to Washington, DC, where she started her incredible life of firsts: the first Fine Arts graduate from Howard University (1924), the first African-American Woman to mount a solo show at the Whitney Museum of American Art (1972), and the first African-American woman to exhibit her paintings in the White House (2009). All the while, she taught art at Shaw Jr. High for 36 years, pioneered educational techniques, travelled the world, and crossed racial barriers. Yet she did not receive national attention until six years before she passed.

Miss Alma Thomas is the first documentary film that explores Thomas’ incredible life through the lens of curators, art specialists, scholars, and her family, and award-winning actress Alfre Woodard as the voice of Miss Thomas. Released in conjunction with a major four-city museum retrospective, thousands will have the opportunity to learn of her life, work, and continuing influence.

About the Director:

Cheri is a pioneer in the feminist art movement in Los Angeles. Her work has been presented in film festivals internationally, in galleries and museums, and alternative settings including buses, churches, and prehistoric temples. Initially known as a performance artist, her work addressed themes such as the body, religion, sexual identity, and the environment. Gaulke’s art continues to be a vehicle for social commentary, and as a way to tell the stories of individuals and groups under-represented in society. As an educator, Gaulke has mentored hundreds of award-winning youth videos. Her recent film, Gloria’s Call, has screened in over 40 film festivals and won Best Documentary at the Ann Arbor Film Festival amongst other awards.

Film Contact:

  • Runtime
    20 minutes
  • Language
  • Country
  • Premiere
  • Director
    Cheri Gaulke