Marian Miner Cook

A distinctive
feature of social and
cultural life at CMC

Monday, September 17, 2018

Monday, September 17, 2018 - Evening Program
Art as Transformation: Using Photography for Social Change
LaToya Ruby Frazier

A 2015 MacArthur Genius Award recipient, Latoya Ruby Frazier will discuss how she has used photography to visually capture the consequences of postindustrial decline for disenfranchised communities and illustrate how photography can promote dialogue about historical change and social responsibility. Drawing from her book The Notion of Family as well as from works of art by Frederick Douglass, August Sander, Julia Margaret Cameron, and Langston Hughes, she relates her conscious approach to photography, opens up more authentic ways to talk about family, inheritance, and place, and celebrates the inspirational, transformative power of images.

LaToya Ruby Frazier is a photographer and video artist who uses visual autobiographies to capture social inequality and historical change in the postindustrial age. Informed by documentary practices from the turn of the last century, Frazier explores identities of place, race, and family in work that is a hybrid of self-portraiture and social narrative. It was the crumbling landscape of her own home town, Braddock, Pennsylvania, a once-thriving steel town, that forms the backdrop of her images and—capturing the attention of the McArthur Foundation—make manifest both the environmental and infrastructural decay caused by postindustrial decline and the lives of those who continue—largely by necessity—to live amongst it.

Frazier received a B.F.A. from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and an M.F.A. from Syracuse University. She held artist residencies at the Lower Manhattan Culture Council and the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program and was the Guna S. Mundheim Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin before assuming her current position as assistant professor in the department of Photography at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Frazier’s work has appeared in numerous exhibitions, including solo shows at the Brooklyn Museum, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, the Seattle Art Museum, and the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston. The Notion of Family, Frazier’s first book, was published in 2014.

Ms. Frazier's Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the President's Leadership Fund.

Photo: Courtesy of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation