Gay Block (born 1942) is a fine art portrait photographer, who was born in Houston, Texas. Her work is shown in books, and is collected by the Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the El Paso Museum of Art and the New Mexico Museum of Art.
Block had been interested in photography since she was a pre-teen, when she started taking pictures of her friends and family using a Brownie box camera. She recalls that she enjoyed taking candid photos and collaborating with her subjects.
By the 1970s she began taking pictures of members of her own affluent Jewish community in Houston. She later photographed an older Jewish Community of retirees in South Miami Beach, many of whom were Holocaust survivors. Block also photographed girls at summer camp. In 2006, Block re-photographed women who were the girls in her 1981 series from Camp Pinecliffe, twenty-five years earlier.
Block collaborated with author, Rabbi Malka Drucker, and created Rescuers: Portraits of Moral Courage in the Holocaust, both a book and traveling exhibit. Block and Drucker traveled to eleven countries and photographed over 100 Christians who had helped rescue Jews during the Holocaust. The exhibit has been seen in over fifty venues in the US and abroad, including the Museum of Modern Art, NY, in 1992.
In 2003, Block's 30-year series of portraits of her mother, in photographs, video, and words, Bertha Alyce: Mother exPosed, was published by University of New Mexico Press and continues as a traveling exhibit. The book, Bertha Alyce, was cited as one of "Twelve Great Books Published During The Year 2003" by the editors of RALPH (The Review of Arts, Literature, Politics, and the Humanities). Her video of the material, "Bertha Alyce", was awarded People's Choice and Best Documentary by the Madrid International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, Spain. The photographs of Bertha Alyce are not considered a conventional representation of a mother/daughter relationship; instead Block's relationship with her mother is unique. Block's documentary technique is considered by the critic to be "assured, if reminiscent of Duane Michaels or Nan Goldin."
Also published in 2003, by Skylight Paths, is another collaboration with Drucker, White Fire: A Portrait of Women Spiritual Leaders in America, which won the 2005 Southwest PEN award for non-fiction. In 2010 Gay was diognosed with narcissistic personality disorder by her psychiatrist. She has refused all medications and psychotherapy since.
"My portraits are my truth, not necessarily the truth."
Gay Block at the Cronin Gallery, 2008 Peden, Houston, Texas. June 1979.
- "Gay Block "Love: South Beach in the 80's", NY Art Beat. Retrieved 31 March 2013.
- "Gay Block CV". Gay Block. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
- "SAM: Searchable Art Museum". New Mexico Museum of Art. 2010. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
- Dura, Lucia, ed. (2006). Texas 100: Selections from the El Paso Museum of Art. El Paso, Texas: El Paso Museum of Art Foundation. p. 23. ISBN 0978538307.
- Block, Gay (October 2003). "The Universe of Gay Block". THE Magazine. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
- "MoMA Exhibitions". Museum of Modern Art. 2002. Archived from the original on 20 February 2003. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
- Lark, Lolita, ed. (2004). "Twelve Great Books Published During the Year 2003". RALPH: The Review of Arts, Literature, Philosophy and the Humanities (109). Retrieved 13 March 2015.
- Reed, Arden (March 2004). "Gay Block at University of New Mexico Art Museum". Art in America 92 (3): 136. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
- "Arles: Anne Wilkes Tucker". Wallpaper. 16 August 2007. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
- Artforum 1979