Issue #168  1/6/2010
Remembered as Weston's Muse, Charis Wilson Passes Away in Santa Cruz At Home of Friend

Charis Wilson, who was photographer Edward Weston's model and muse during their 11-year relationship, died November 20, 2009, in Santa Cruz, CA, at the home of Joseph Stroud, a friend. Her daughter Rachel Fern Harris is her only immediate survivor.

Wilson was Weston's companion from 1934 to 1945. By 1935 they were living together; they married in 1939 and separated in 1945, divorcing the following year.

She appears in more than half of Weston's nudes, including some his best-known photographs. She wrote about Weston's photography and helped him with writing assignments, including an application for a Guggenheim fellowship in 1937, which was the first such grant to be given to an art photographer. They then used the money to travel, co-writing "California and the West" in the process, which included about 100 of Weston's photographs.

More recently Wilson held several different jobs, including union secretary and creative writing teacher, but she had spent much of her life writing and speaking about her time with Weston. In 1977 she wrote about this period for a book of photographs, "Edward Weston Nudes," and in 2007 she appeared in a film documentary, "Eloquent Nude." Her memoir, "Through Another Lens," which was written with Wendy Madar, was published in 1999. She was also interviewed in "The Model Wife," a 1999 book and exhibition by Arthur Ollman.