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Charis Wilson (1914–2009)

Author of Through Another Lens: My Years with Edward Weston

Includes the names: Charis Wilson Weston

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From her obituary in The New York Times: Helen Charis Wilson (she preferred to be called Charis, pronounced KARR-iss) was largely raised by her grandmother, Grace McGowan Cooke and her great-aunt, Alice McGowan, both of whom were writers and part of the San Francisco literary scene that included Jack London. She earned a scholarship to Sarah Lawrence College in New York, but her father, impoverished by the Great Depression, refused to send her. Charis was an intellectually inclined, brazenly adventurous young woman of 19 when she met Edward Weston, who was then in his late 40s and a friend of her brother. They were drawn to each other instantly, and she began posing for him shortly thereafter. During their 11 years together, she wrote the grant application that earned Weston a Guggenheim Fellowship, and she drove the car during his explorations of the West. She is credited with actually writing the articles for photography magazines that were attributed to him.

And she inspired his art, becoming the literal embodiment of Weston's aesthetic — elegant, simple, fiercely intimate and glowingly sensual, with shadow and light beautifully in balance — as it applied to the female form. He photographed her clothed and unclothed, indoors and out, and many of his images of her are among his most enduring. In later years, she held a number of jobs, including union secretary and creative writing teacher, but she spent much of her professional life writing and speaking about her time with Weston. She wrote a memoir, Through Another Lens: My Years with Edward Weston (1999) with Wendy Madar.
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