Artist's Statement

Nina Hamberg

35mm black-and-white negative film. Exhibition prints: 11”x 14”

My goal is to show an intimate view of the 1970’s feminist movement in a way that hasn’t been seen before and that speaks to the present moment.

When I shot this series starting in 1969, I was an undergraduate photography major at San Francisco State University and an activist in the emerging women’s movement. I set out to capture the energy of the women fighting sexism, as well as the reactions of men and women watching the early feminist demonstrations, many of whom were hearing about gender inequality for the first time. I also brought my camera to private feminist gatherings so I could show that world from the inside.

After graduation, when I had to earn a living, I boxed up all my work. In the decades that followed, I lugged those cartons with me wherever I went. The negatives are survivors. They were in the last cartons waiting to be unloaded from my car when I moved into a new home. They were still in my backseat two nights later when the house burned down.

I went to graduate school and built a career in communications, using my photography skills. All along, I’d planned on resurrecting these images, publishing and exhibiting them as soon as I had the time. But I never did. Something always got in the way. Until now. My entire women’s movement project spans six events: three public demonstrations (two of which are shown here) and three smaller gatherings. This year is the 50th anniversary of many of the events in the photographs. It’s also the first time in decades that feminism is again on the national stage, making it important to take stock of where we’ve been.

Sisterhood was a word that united feminists in the 1970’s. These images provide a new view of what that sisterhood looked like.