10 23 2014
  6:44 am  
     •     
McMenamins

In 1905, Seema Weatherwax was born to radical Jewish intellectuals in Czarist-ruled Chernigov, Ukraine. Her 100 years of life have spanned continents, the history of modern photography and decades of social change.

Part biography, part oral history, "Seema's Show: A Life on the Left" (University of New Mexico Press paperback, $19.95), by Portland author Sara Halprin, reveals to readers Seema's extraordinary life – her struggles, her activism for social and racial justice and her relationships with famed photographers, writers and intellectuals of the 20th century.

At 17, Seema got her first job drying prints in a photo finishing lab in Boston and joined the newly founded Young Communist League. At 33, she was hired by Ansel Adams to run his Yosemite darkroom, and at 37 she married writer Jack Weatherwax and devoted herself to his causes and writings.

When Jack died in 1984, Seema began a new life of independence, becoming active in Santa Cruz, Calif.'s political scene. In 2000, at the age of 95, she exhibited her own photographs in her first show.

"Seema's Show" details the persecution in and eventual escape of Seema's family from Russia, events that forever shaped her activism. Now a board member of the Santa Cruz NAACP, her life has been devoted to the advancement of justice.

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