Seema Aissen Weatherwax

Photographer, Visual Artist

1905 – 2006


Who was Seema Aissen Weatherwax?

Seema Aissen Weatherwax was a Ukrainian-born American photographer.

She was born in Ukraine, then under the Russian Czar, to Avram and Reva Aissen. She was the second of three girls. The family emigrated to England in 1912, then Boston in 1922, where the young Seema Aissen found her first job working in a photofinishing lab. She pursued this craft in Boston, New Jersey, New Mexico, California and Tahiti, but she was ninety-five when she first exhibited her own photographs to the public.

In Los Angeles in the 1930s she joined the Film and Photo League, began her lifelong work for racial justice, and formed enduring friendships with artists and political activists including Edward Weston, Imogen Cunningham and Woody Guthrie. She assisted Ansel Adams in Yosemite, becoming a close friend of the Adams family. She left Yosemite to marry Jack Weatherwax in 1942, working as a photo technician to support his writing while joining in his left activism in Los Angeles. In 1984 they moved to Santa Cruz, California, where her husband died three weeks after their arrival.

After a year of grieving and contemplation, Seema Weatherwax stepped into public life in her own right. Wanting to share her personal collection of art and photographs, she held benefit shows, joined the NAACP and WILPF, was elected to the boards of those two organizations, and was soon well known in Santa Cruz.

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Aug 25, 1905
  • United States of America
Jun 25, 2006

on July 23, 2013


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