Portrait of Humanity
LaToya Ruby Frazier, artist and activist to speak at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts,
Nov. 9 at 7 p.m., hosted by the Tanner Humanities Center.
By Skylar Fetter
Frazier is a multimedia artist and 2015 MacArthur Fellow whose work spans genres and disciplines but often includes themes touching on environmental racism, industrial, family, personal narrative, and interdisciplinary connections. Her work has been featured in many prestigious museums, including The Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Bronx Museum of New York, The Whitney Museum of American Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, among many others.
In 2014, Frazier published her first book, “The Notion of Family,” a deeply personal piece featuring her mother and grandmother's life in the shadow of the steel mill industry and their ongoing health struggles. The book received the International Center for Photography Infinity Award. In her most recent book, “Flint is Family in Three Acts,” published in 2022, Frazier again examines environmental injustices. Still, this time, she does so through the lens of a family affected by the Flint water crisis. The New York Times wrote that the book was a powerful multimedia exploration through which "the words, portraits, and actions in [this] book place an ongoing disaster in a broader context: American, humanitarian, human."
In addition to her many New York Times reviews, her work is featured in high-profile publications like The New Yorker, The Guardian, and NPR. Frazier has contributed artwork to several collections and presented them as part of her recent TED Talk, "A creative solution for the water crisis in Flint, Michigan," in 2019.
Now, her work is set to take the stage in museums nationwide. In June of this year, her award-winning installation, “More Than Conquerors: A Monument for Community Health Workers of Baltimore, Maryland 2021-2022” was acquired by The Baltimore Museum of Art, where it will begin its display in 2025. In the spring of 2024, her work will be displayed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in a survey entitled “LaToya Ruby Frazier: Monuments of Solidarity.” This will be her most significant U.S. showing to date.
Frazier is an artist whose work speaks to a large audience despite or perhaps because of her devotion to specific places and people. Through her lens, she can tell stories that have so often been ignored. In an interview with New York Times Style Magazine, Frazier says, "I'm angry about being told that I was nothing, that I was less than human, that my life wasn't worth saving. I'm definitely crusading against that in every single image and portrait that I make." Her emotional investment in each piece is a powerful testament to her empathy for her subjects and the communities. Already becoming an established artist and activist at the beginning of her career, Frazier and her work are a force for connection and human understanding in a world that can sometimes seem consumed by apathy.
Published November 03, 2023