LaToya Ruby Frazier Biography
“Throughout my work,” says LaToya Ruby Frazier, “is this constant theme of corrosion.” As an artist, advocate, and educator, Frazier investigates the effects of postindustrial decay on communities of color and the environment at large. Her unsparing black-and-white photographs and related bodies of work draw from the WPA-era social documentary tradition but derive immediate power from Frazier’s commitment to collaborative storytelling and redistributive justice.
Frazier was born in 1982 in Braddock, Pennsylvania, in an area known as “the bottom” in the shadow of U.S. Steel blast furnaces. In 1988, Braddock was designated a “financially distressed municipality due to the collapse of the steel industry. Frazier earned a B.F.A. from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and an M.F.A. from Syracuse University. Her magnum opus The Notion of Family, a sustained inquiry into her matriline’s survival of environmental racism in Braddock, was published as a monograph by Aperture in 2014 and won the International Center for Photography’s Infinity Award. The following year, at age 33, Frazier was named a MacArthur fellow. In 2016, Frazier spent five months living in Flint, Michigan and documenting the city’s ongoing water crisis, a project which culminated in a photo essay, Flint is Family, and a much-watched TED talk. Her most recent body of work, The Last Cruze, focuses on autoworkers in Lordstown, Ohio, following the shutdown of a General Motors plant. The resulting monograph was chosen by TIME as one of the best photobooks of 2021. Frazier currently serves as Associate Professor of Photography at School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she lives and works. She is represented by Gladstone Gallery in New York and Brussels and Sant’Andrea de Scaphis in Rome.
Frazier’s work has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions at institutions like the Silver Eye Center for Photography in Pittsburgh, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and the CAPC Musée d'Art Contemporain de Bordeaux. She is represented in public collections worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris.