Gelles, Judy

Judy Gelles, Philadelphia, USA (July 31, 1944 – March 14, 2020)

Judy Gelles received her MFA in photography from the Rhode Island School of Design and her Masters in Counseling from the University of Miami. Her work is in major collections including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She has had residencies at the MacDowell Colony, the Visual Studies Workshop, and the Atlantic Center for the Arts. Awards include a grant from the Lomax Family Foundation, an Individual Artist Grant from the Rhode Island state Council On The Arts, an Independence Foundation Fellowship in The Arts, a Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation Artist as Catalyst Grant, a grant from WYBE Public Television, a Philadelphia Stories New Program Grant, and a Fleisher Challenge Artist Exhibition. In 2009, Critical Mass listed her as one of the top 50 photographers in the US. Her work has been featured in Ms. Magazine; Vision Magazine, Beijing, China; Camerawork; New Art Examiner; Artweek and Photography Now.

Mother & Father

These images are of my parents on their wedding day. The text describes the relationship when my father was dying of cancer 60 years later.
I realized early on that the most immediate and strongest influence in my work is the family. The family is one of the key agents of socialization in society, transmitting culture, values, and behavioral models to each generation. Since the age of fourteen, I have kept a daily journal. In 1977, when I began to photograph, it was natural to combine my journal writings with images. My objective is to provoke thoughts, ideas, memories, and discussion. What began as a personal recording has turned into a social document. In my work, artist and viewer alike examine the details of family and social life, and learn more about who and what one is in the socially organized world.  I use autobiographical stories to depict subtle ways we are taught to be male and female in our culture. Text is used not to simply describe but to add another layer to the work. My intent is to show that reality is not hard and simple but multi-leveled and fragile, that persons in complex societies tend to have multiple roles.“ Judy Gelles 2006


Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA
Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, CA
Akron Art Museum, Akron, OH
Dayton Museum of Art. Dayton, OH
Southeast Museum of Photography, Daytona Beach, FL
Haverford College, Haverford, PA
Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA
Brooklyn Museum of Art, Artist Book Collection, Brooklyn, NY
Museum of Modern Art, NY, Artist Book Collection, New York, NY
Museum of Fine Arts/Boston, Artist Book Collection, Boston, MA
Harvard University Fine Arts Library, Cambridge, MA
The MacDowell Colony, Peterborough, NH
Photographic Resource Center, Boston, MA
Newport Art Museum, Newport, RI
Danforth Museum of Art, Framingham, MA
Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence, RI
Philadelphia Free Library, Print and Picture Collection, Philadelphia, PA
Hebrew Home, Riverdale, NY
Sprint Art Collections, Overland Park, KS


Judy Gelles, Beach Boxes, One Picture Book Number 24, Nazraeli Press, 2004.
Judy Gelles, Florida Family Portrait, Visual Studies Workshop, Rochester, NY, 2002.
Judy Gelles, When We Were Ten, Visual Studies Workshop, Rochester, NY, 1997.