Gender Studies •  Photography and Women

Bertha Alyce: Mother exPosed

Photographs by Gay Block

Gay Block began photographing her mother, Bertha Alyce, in 1973 and continued until Bertha
Alyce's death resulting from a stroke in 1991. This collection of Block's photographs (sections of which involve nudity) presents her complicated, and at times difficult, relationship with her mother and a mother-daughter quest for healing. This intensely personal and intimate account could easily be a reflection of any family today. Essays by Eugenia Parry, author of Crime Album Stories: Paris 1886-1902, and Kathleen Stewart Howe, curator of the University of New Mexico Museum, accompany the photographs. To complete the presentation, the award-winning DVD "Bertha Alyce" is included (28 minutes in length).

"An extended portrait of a mother and daughter that will fray the edges of documentary expectations." - James Enyeart, Marion Center for Photographic Arts, Santa Fe

"A poignant investigation into the nature of love and memory, including resentment, forgiveness, jealousy and understanding." - Cheryl Younger, International Photography Institute, New York

"This is a funny, sad, provoking, and touching book that I most admire for its honesty." - Anne Wilkes Tucker, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston


Gay Block's photographs have been exhibited in museums since 1975, including a solo exhibit at New York's Museum of Modern Art in 1992 when her collaboration on Rescuers: Portraits of Moral Courage in the Holocaust with writer Malka Drucker was published. Block lives in Santa Fe.


"Bertha Alyce is many things: it is a catharsis, an exposé, and a glimpse into affluent Jewish life in the South. It is like a museum exhibit between two covers. Like all art, it is deeply personal, challenging and at times, uncomfortable. . .Bertha Alyce: Mother exPosed is a portrait unlike any other; a fitting tribute to a unique woman and all the complexities of the mother-daughter relationship."


The New Mexico Jewish Link

"Block shows how someone standing in another's strong shadow can endure maternal domination, witness the corrosion of time on vanity, and escape to construct a rich, productive life on her own terms."



"A book of emotional aptitude such as this is rare, and Bertha Alyce: Mother exPosed is worth having for its unique style. A lifetime of photographs seem both familiar and alarming, spinning a narrative of their own that tugged on my heart like lost memories. I found hope and communion in Bertha Alyce: Mother exPosed; Block's personal journey is an affecting ride that may prompt you to examine your own memories."


Pride Magazine

6.75 x 9.5 in. 296 pages 267 color plates