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Lenn Keller was a photographer, filmmaker, and activist who played a significant role in documenting and promoting lesbian culture in the United States.

Lenn Keller

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For as long as I can remember, I have loved art. My creative expression has centered around music, photography and film/video. Music was my first love, and both the listening and making of it has seen me through some of the most challenging times of my life.

By age eight, photography had also made an indelible impression on me. I spent endless hours laying on the living room floor poring over Life magazine -- looking at beautiful black and white images that stimulated my imagination, emotions, and curiosity about people from all kinds of cultures around the world. In the late 1960's, I ran away from my suburban Chicago home, and was adopted by a black artists' collective in Harlem.

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It was there that I had my first exposure to black intellectual culture, live jazz, the darkroom and independent filmmaking. It was not until more than a decade later that my formal study of photography would begin. I began exhibiting in 1981, and in 1984 obtained a B.A. in Visual Communication from Mills College in Oakland CA.

During the 1990's, I became seriously involved with filmmaking. In 1993, I wrote, produced, directed, and shot my first short film, Ifé, on 16mm, which won an audience favorite award at the Madrid Women's International Film Festival in 1994. In 1995, I wrote, directed and produced my second short 16mm film, Sightings. In 2001, I began producing and directing a feature length documentary entitled, A Persistent Desire, which is about a lesbian sexual and gender sub-culture.

"Black Lesbian Contingent, SF Pride Parade," June, 1991. Photo by permission of the Bay Area Lesbian Archives Black lesbian contingent,  San Francisco Pride, Parade,  June, 1991, from the Lenn Keller Collection, Collection of Bay Area Lesbian Archives

Photo source: datebook.sfchronicle.com

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