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Indepth Arts News:

"Helen Nestor: Personal and Political"
2000-06-24 until 2000-10-15
Oakland Museum of Califoria
Oakland, CA, USA

The Oakland Museum of California celebrates the acquisition of the archive of Berkeley photographer Helen Nestor with the exhibition Helen Nestor: Personal and Political, which runs through October 15, 2000. The exhibition presents 33 vintage black and white photographs of the California social scene of the '60s and '70s, documenting such subjects as the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley, nontraditional California families, Vietnam War protests, California feminists, mid-life women, the early days of busing in the Berkeley Unified School District, street life on Telegraph Avenue and the Haight Ashbury, and the People's Park movement.

The Nestor collection, containing more than 2,000 prints and 20,000 negatives, is the life's work of an important documentary photographer who specialized in recording the political and social changes of the 1960s and beyond in California.

Nestor's prolific career is all the more remarkable in that she is seriously disabled. Like Dorothea Lange (with whom she was acquainted), Nestor was afflicted with polio; unlike her more famous colleague, she could not walk without the assistance of crutches and, eventually, a wheelchair. Despite this she produced compelling work in often threatening situations. Born in 1924, Nestor earned a B.S. degree in public health at U.C. Berkeley before being stricken with polio in 1951. She studied photography in the early 1960s with Ansel Adams, Morley Baer, Minor White and Dorothea Lange - her spiritual mentor.

Nestor's work appeared in Ramparts magazine as well as in several monographs including Equal Start (1968), On the Go (1968), The Trouble in Berkeley (1965) and Field Trips (1966). In the 1970s she became increasingly interested in changing family constellations, creating a series entitled Non-Traditional American Families, which exhibited in several galleries including the Focus Gallery in San Francisco. In 1988 she rephotographed these families for a book titled Family Portraits in Changing Times (1992).

Nestor has also photographed the disabled, focusing on disabled working women and artists. She has mounted ten solo exhibitions and participated in numerous group showings.

A reception to honor Ms. Nestor will be held at the Oakland Museum of California on Thursday, August 17, from 4 to 6 p.m.

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