Elizabeth Block first enters the world of art through theatre, spending her childhood performing by age six. She begins writing and directing for stage in high school, when she adapts Elizabeth Swados’ “The Runaways” for one-act theater in the round. She attends Northwestern’s National High School institute for Theater as an actor. She also studies at Interlochen Arts Academy.
She starts receiving several writing awards in high school, when her mother also introduces her to the writing of Margaret Mead. She picks up a Super-8 film camera at a flea market and teaches herself to shoot Kodachrome film.
Elizabeth later writes books, receiving a Doris Roberts/William Goyen Fiction Fellowship from the Christopher Isherwood Foundation, and she writes, produces directs, and acts in the play, “Exposing We,” based on the Desire photo series by David Levinthal. She is first invited to present her ideas on Levinthal’s photography at the Ansel Adams Center for Photography’s panel on Society, Sexuality, and the Image, and then she revises her public presentation into a one-act play, which is produced at UC Santa Cruz. She collaborates on it with ethnomusicologist/dancer, Debbie Klein.
Her award-winning novel, A Gesture Through Time (Spuyten Duyvil: NYC) is solicited for feature film adaptation by VOX3, NYC. The novel is written under fiscal sponsorship of Intersection for the Arts, San Francisco. She is also the author the poetry collection, Celluloid Salutations (BlazeVox [Books]: Buffalo, NY). Her work is widely published in literary journals, anthologies, newspapers, magazines, and she is commissioned to write a new (feminist) foreword for the Signet Classics edition of The Confessions of St. Augustine.
Elizabeth writes television spec scripts for Transparent and The Affair. Her short films, distributed by Canyon Cinema, screen extensively in film festivals, museums, and art house cinemas, such as Anthology Film Archives, Athens International Film Festival, Antimatter Film Festival, Madcat International Women’s Film Festival, MIX NYC, Harvard Film Archives, Ocularis at Galapagos Art Space, The Lab, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco Cinematheque, the Museum of Contemporary Art | Denver, etc. She exhibits her media art at galleries across the SF Bay area, and co-curates a highly regarded media exhibition with Catharine Clark (SF Guardian Best of the Bay). She also organizes a visit from NYC filmmaker, Bruce McClure, to the California College of Arts to present his work to the SF Bay Area, and carry out studio visits with CCA graduate students.
Producer, Ariella Ben-Dov, chooses one of her films to travel as a sample of the Madcat International Women’s Film Festival tour.
She wins awards for her writing and film/video works, including two Djerassi Resident Artist fellowships, a Poets & Writers grant (to read with Lidia Yuknavitch and Lucy Corin), a Hopwood Award finalist selection from the University of Michigan, A Film Arts semi-finalist selection, a Mill Atelier Award to the Santa Fe Art Institute, an Olin grant, a finalist for the Heekin Foundation First Novel Fellowship, etc. Her fiction is read on KQED, and she has performed her writing across the U.S. She has taught and lectured at several universities and colleges, as well as at arts venues and bookstores such as City Lights, The Bowery Poetry Club, The California Commonwealth Club, Santa Fe Art Institute, CAL Berkeley, The Spare Room, Elliott Bay Books, The Discrete Series, the once beloved Ann Arbor bookstore, Shaman Drum, etc.
She is reviewed in The Brooklyn Rail, Time Out Chicago, American Book Review, Film Threat, Review of Contemporary Fiction, etc. She is also a regular book, art, and film reviewer, and she performs screenplay and television pilot coverage.
In 2016, a fictional memoir excerpt from a book length manuscript, The Pump Room, is nominated for Best of the Web, Sundress Press.
She writes narrative screenplays, short screenplays, and is currently working on a particular narrative feature, she is driven to see to screen and to direct.
Elizabeth receives two M.F.A. degrees in film/media arts and writing from the California College of the Arts, San Francisco, an M.A. in cultural anthropology from UC Santa Cruz, and her B.A. with high honors in anthropology, from the University of Michigan Honors College, where she attains many writing and video awards (also making a 30-minute documentary video), and studies with MacArthur award-winning anthropologist/filmmaker/photographer, Ruth Behar. While at the University of Michigan she is a theatre and photography critic for the Michigan Daily and she interns for the Michigan Quarterly Review. She also attends the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference.
She studies analog and digital filmmaking and media art with Lynne Marie Kirby (2017 U.S. Venice Biennale artist), Jeanne C. Finley, and Trinh T. Minh-Ha (Class of 2016 Motion Picture Arts and Sciences). She learns sound recording from Academy Award winner, Richard Beggs, and in the Mills College graduate electronic music program. She considers PEN/Faulkner, NEA awardee, Maxine Chernoff, one of her most generous creative writing mentors/advisors.
Elizabeth works in 16mm and video, as a producer, director, cinematographer, and editor (she has edited on a Steenbeck as well as on the computer). She develops and hand-processes 16mm prints and photogram film, and she does projector performance with film and light.
She collaborates with Melbourne, Australia based composer, Warren Burt, for over a decade. He composes for her films and creates digital soundscapes for her written text (some of which have appeared on radio and podcasts internationally), Elizabeth’s writing is presented as public art in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Elizabeth reads her fiction on KQED, other public radio stations, and podcasts. She also collaborates with Lannan Foundation, Skowhegan School Fellow, and NEA supported artist, Evri Kwong.
Elizabeth is born in Detroit, and raised in Bloomfield Hills, MI. She is also the offspring of a father born, raised, and educated in Boston/Cambridge, so she has deep roots and longings for New England, and never takes a liking to the word “pop.” She doesn’t even drink soda, anyway. She has lived in NYC, Annandale-on-Hudson, Portland, Washington D.C., and now considers herself a native Californian. Her daughter is a fourth generation San Franciscan.
Copyright Elizabeth Block 2017. All Rights Reserved.
Image: Copyright Donna Cameron 2017. All Rights Reserved.
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