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About the Photographer
Frazier, LaToya Ruby
American, b. 1982
From 2001-2014 LaToya Ruby Frazier extensively documented the economic and social struggles of her family and community in her hometown of Braddock, Pennsylvania. Her pictures are autobiographical and depict her grandmother, her mother, and herself, as well as the effects of a declining industrial city. Frazier’s grandmother lived in Braddock when it was home to a vibrant and prosperous steel industry. Her mother witnessed the closing of many steel mills and the subsequent economic catastrophe, and in turn Frazier watched members of her community succumb to drug addiction, poverty, and terminal illness caused by extensive industrial pollution.
Photographs made by Frazier—sometimes in collaboration with or authored by her mother—tell the family story. A dialog about identity as it pertains to self, family, and community emerges alongside a nuanced portrait of the shifting circumstances of blue-collar America. To create this narrative, Frazier blends two approaches—social documentary photography and conceptual art—and characterizes complex, intergenerational struggles as both participant and author.
LaToya Ruby Frazier completed a BFA in applied media arts from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania (2004) and a MFA in photography from Syracuse University, New York (2007). Select solo exhibitions include: the Brooklyn Museum, New York, NY (2013); Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA (2014); the Institute for Contemporary Art, Boston, MA (2014). Select group exhibitions include: the New Museum, New York, NY (2009); the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY (2010); the 54th Venice Biennale, Venice,Italy (2011); and the Palazzo delle Esposizinoi, Rome (2013). Her work is held in numerous collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Centre National Des Arts Plastiques, France; Library of Congress, Washington, DC; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; NY; and the Zabludowicz Collection, London, England. She has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Pratt Institute (2017); the Gwendolyn Knight & Jacob Lawrence Prize from the Seattle Art Museum (2013); the Theo Westenberger Award of the Creative Capital Foundation (2012); and the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award (2011). Frazier has taught and curated exhibitions at the Yale University School of Art, New Haven, CT; Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ; and Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY. She is currently an Associate Professor of Photography at The Art Institute of Chicago and lives and works in Chicago, IL.