Edited by Alex Harris and Margaret Sartor
University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill and London, 1984
For Gertrude Blom, photography expresses an intense love for a vanishing culture and landscape. Since she arrived from Europe in 1940 as a political refugee, Blom has devoted her life to the Ladino and Mayan peoples of Chiapas, Mexico. The extraordinary photographs in the volume, taken over a period of forty years, bear witness not only to Blom’s distinctive vision of these people and their fragile environment, but also to her tireless commitment to their protection. With her photographs, she joins the ranks of other great social observers with a camera.
“It is particularly in her photographs of the Lacandones and their jungle environment that Blom joins the ranks of other great social observers with a camera, like Laura Gilpin, Dorothea Lange, and Eugene Smith, photographers who earned the trust of their subjects, in part, because they cared a great deal for the lives and fates of the people they portrayed. What separates Blom from these photographers, and makes her extensive body of work seem particularly impressive, is that her photography is not a primary concern. Blom’s photographs are a by-product of her many other activities over the years. In Mexico she has been part journalist, social activist, and explorer, part anthropologist, photographer, and ecologist, and, it would not be an exaggeration to state, part legend.” — Alex Harris, from the Introduction