Rosa Bondini, 38, Cook
1983, Nancy Rosenblum

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Nancy Rosenblum

I grew up in the suburbs of Los Angeles and got my first camera when I was seven, one of those Kodak cameras you could buy at Savon. I loved documenting my life. I kept zillions of scrapbooks with photos of my family, friends and daily events in them. I'd always write funny captions to go with the pictures.

At seven I also took over my father's 8mm Bell and Howell movie camera, but I had to fight to get it away from him. I have always expressed my inner feelings through photography, whether still, or moving images. For me it was communication.

After coming out in 1975, I attended the photography program at California Institute of the Arts for six years beginning in 1977 and earning a Master of Fine Arts Degree in 1983. When I first started Cal Arts, there was a tremendous amount of misogyny among staff, which trickled down to students. The poor male teachers were still licking their wounds from the Feminist Arts Program that began there lead by Judy Chicago and Mimi Shapiro.

Around this same time, Los Angeles still had an active Lesbian political movement. I was taking pictures for the Lesbian Tide, our rag of the 70's, and lesbian entertainers, etc. Plus, I was feeling my own lesbian oats. Filled with pride and a positive sexual identity, and angered by the perpetual male media myth of women as victims, I started photographing lesbians. I was so in love with the way we swaggered, the firm steps of our fry boots, the strong presence we created when entering a room, or a conversation.

I thought there was no better role model for women at large than the women who took my breadth away, women who could look you in the eye, unafraid to be themselves, strengths and vulnerabilities, Dykes! In 1983 at my Master's show at Cal Arts, "Some of my Best Friends...Portraits of Lesbians," the homophobia and misogyny I had experienced my entire six years there seemed to finally fade away. Not only was I surrounded by loving friends, the faculty and supposed liberal community of Cal Arts, but also the conservative community of Valencia, where Cal Arts is located. I actually had people come up to me and say because of my photographs they would now think positively about lesbians. I was so Proud!!

I switched from still photography to video editing upon graduating from Cal Arts. I never wanted to be a commercial photographer as photography was always a way for me to express myself, not a way to support myself. In 1988 I edited and coproduced with Irene Pinn a documentary about lesbians called You Can Know All I Am. It was funded by an Los Angeles organization called Connexxus, El Centro De Mujeres, and was used as a teaching tool throughout high schools to demystify lesbianism. I went on to earn 10 Emmy awards for editing various news documentaries and I have begun cutting movies, which is a dream come true. While so far most of the films I cut are of the genre, in 1996 I cut Nicole Conn, Cynaara, Poetry in Motion.

I have exhibited photographs at Cal State, Northridge; Women's Center at Council House Sisterhood Bookstore; Cameravision Gallery; The Women's Building; California Institute of theArts; Connexxus-El Centro de Mujeres; Los Angeles Center for Photographic Studies; and LACE

Nancy Rosenblum

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All text Nancy Rosenblum.