Jean Weisinger is based in Oakland. She has
traveled to England, Amsterdam, Germany, Cuba, Australia, New
Zealand, Bali, Africa, Jamaica, Mexico and The South of the
United States, documenting people of color for her up-coming
books. Jean's photographs have been published in and on numerous
books, magazines, journals, and newspapers, as well as posters,
post cards and calendars. Marlon Riggs/Signifying Works-Black
Is ... Black Ain't, and EarthBeat, "A Priority"-
Sweet Honey in the Rock, are just two of the films that include
In October, 1990, she documented the "I Am Your Sister,"
conference honoring Audre Lorde and her work. Jean has exhibited
in selected group exhibitions as well as selected one-person
exhibitions in the Bay Area, Northern California, New York,
Cuba, Georgia, and Uganda, Africa.
Her photographs have been collected by collectors throughout the
world. Jean's vision is to travel around the world and to
document the beautiful, spirited earth's people, and to make
powerful photographic books as gifts to the world. Her portraits
of Alice Walker and Audre Lorde have been widely published. Jean
believes that her photographs capture the true spirit of
people's heart. "I take photographs to not only document
these times and the lives of those who cross my path, but also
to express myself. Photography is a passion born within me, a
necessity that is not governed by monetary payment. It has
become part of the progress toward freedom and love.
Photographing is an act of love."
In February 1997, Jean traveled to Kerala, South India, to
document an event (that happens every spring) where over four
hundred thousand women from all religions, castes and classes
line the streets of Thiruvananthapuram with their pots to cook
porridge for the goddess Bhagavathi.
Her work is represented in the collections of Alice Walker, San
Francisco, CA.; Caribbean Cultural Center, New York, NY; Audre
Lorde's Health Center, Los Angeles, CA.; San Francisco Women's
Building, San Francisco.
Thirty-three of her photographs of women writers have been
published by Aunt Lute Books called Imagery: Women Writers.
It was not my intention to photograph myself.
When I was small, there were no photographs of me; I was the
first-born of nine children. Seeing photos of them and not me
led me to believe that I was from another place. So, as soon as
I got my hands on a camera, I began taking images of my family,
people in the community, writers, artists, and the sensitive and
beautiful common folks, down to earth human beings.
point in my life, I'm learning about the power of loving the
self. The loss of my mother on October 6, 1989 has taught me
this. Losing her has forced me to face myself: Who is Jean? What
do I want? Photography, like art, has been healing and
therapeutic. I have come to know and love myself through both.
Art saved my life in 1989 as photography is doing now.
In October, 1990, after traveling to Germany, Amsterdam,
England, and the East Coast of America to document the I am Your
Sister conference honoring Audre Lorde and her work, Audre said
to me what many women had also been saying: Jean, you take
beautiful, positive and powerful images of women - you need to
show your work so the world can see.
A year later and still struggling to do my work, to survive as
an African American artist, I decided to do a photography book
of black/white portraits of women around the world (currently in
progress) called A Community of Women, with personal statements
answering the question: What Does Community Mean to Me? Some of
these photographs are published in Imagery: Women Writers,
Portraits by Jean Weisinger (San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books,
Having an exhibition or even making postcards was too expensive
at the time. Hungry for film, I began calling on the Universe. I
began asking the universe, the souls of my African/Native
American ancestors, the spirits who walk among us, the spirits
who speak to us through our dreams, our bodies, the trees and
the wind, to help me secure the things that I need to do my work
and to continue to document these times and the lives of those
that cross my path.
The photograph Seeing Myself Through Alice Walker's Eyes, taken
in March 1991, expresses a whole person, a new way of seeing
myself. A Birth. A person who is strong, confident and yet warm
and sensitive; powerful and still soft, friendly, trusting, and
open-hearted - spiritual. This series of photographs made a
powerful impact on my life and it has come to help me understand
who I really am. Alice Walker has been very instrumental and
inspirational to my work. Through her vision, I know that my own
vision is possible - and this is liberating to me. This
knowledge has validated my life, my work, and the woman I am and
(the woman) I am becoming.
My work is the way I give back to my sisters and to the
universe. It's a way in which I fight the constant battle
against racism, sexism, classism, and violence toward
women/children/human beings/animals and the trees. I take
photographs to not only document these times and the lives of
those who cross my path, but also to express myself. Photography
is a passion born within me, a necessity that is not governed by
monetary payment. It has become part of the progress toward
freedom and love. Photographing the self is an act of love and a
gift to others.
Audre Lorde from Imagery: Women Writers
1996, © Jean Weisinger
Title: Hinewiragi Kohu-Morgan
California 1994 © Jean Weisinger
Title: Angela Davis
Oakland, CA 1998 © Jean Weisinger