MacArthur Genius Comes to P4P

Our next selection is a first for P4P on two counts: Our first guest who is a MacArthur Genius Award Winner.  And our first photo book!

Our next selection is the award winning The Notion Of Family by LaToya Ruby Frazier. The book is a powerful exploration of LaToya’s hometown of Braddock PA, the home of the first Carnegie steel mill which opened in 1875.

The Notion of Family

The book powerfully takes the viewer into LaToya’s family and hometown.  In the video she made after receiving the MacArthur Foundation 2015 Genius Award, LaToya says three things I wanted to share as we get ready to examine her book:

I make work that deals with the intersection of the steel industry, environmental racism and the health care crisis.

There aren’t many stories about African American families from Braddock.  There’s no recognition paid to the labor and the lives that were given to the factory and the town.

I think that it’s important to use the camera when you’re dealing with these things that we erase, and avoid and pretend that aren’t there.  It’ s my job and duty to be a witness to what’s happening.

Give a look and listen to this video of LaToya talking about The Notion of Family and her reaction to receiving the MacArthur Foundation Grant.

(It you do not see the video screen, you can view it through this link.)

LaToya Ruby Frazier’s profile from the MacArthur Foundation is at the end of the post.   You can get a copy of The Notion of Family directly from the publisher, Aperture.

Politics for the People Conference Call

With LaToya Ruby Frazier

Sunday, December 6th at 7 pm EST


641 715-3605

Code 767775#




Meet the 2015 MacArthur Fellows

These 24 delightfully diverse MacArthur Fellows are shedding light and making progress on critical issues, pushing the boundaries of their fields, and improving our world in imaginative, unexpected ways,” said MacArthur President Julia Stasch. “Their work, their commitment, and their creativity inspire us all.

LaToya Ruby Frazier

Photographer and Video Artist

Assistant Professor, Department of Photography

School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Chicago, Illinois

Age: 33

Published September 28, 2015

The Notion of Familya series of unflinching black-and-white photographs, shows her mother, grandmother, and the artist herself in a Braddock unmoored by disinvestment and demographic decline. Frazier’s stark portraits underscore the connection between self and physical space and make visible the consequences of neglect and abandonment—unemployment, environmental health crises, and lack of access to services—for Braddock’s historically marginalized working-class African American community. In a photolithograph and silkscreen print series from 2011, entitled Campaign for Braddock Hospital (“Save Our Community Hospital”), Frazier sets up an ironic juxtaposition between upbeat consumer capitalism and the challenges of working people. Images of Braddock from a 2010 Levi Strauss campaign bearing the slogan “Ready to Work” are set in counterpoint to quotes from Braddock residents about the closure of the town’s only hospital—and its principal employer—that same year.

In more recent photographic work, Frazier documents Braddock from the skies in full-color aerial shots that record the extensive transformations of a community after years of economic collapse. Frazier’s uncompromising and moving work illustrates how contemporary photography can open conversations about American history, class structures, and social responsibility.
LaToya Ruby Frazier received a B.F.A. (2004) from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and an M.F.A. (2007) from Syracuse University. She held artist residencies at the Lower Manhattan Culture Council (2009–2010) and the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program (2010–2011) and was the Guna S. Mundheim Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin (2013–2014) 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.

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Founder of the Politics for the People free educational series and book club for independent voters. Chair of the New York County Independence Party.

One thought on “MacArthur Genius Comes to P4P

  1. Brightest Blessings To All:
    Out of all the books that bring Me into the reality of the working class struggle within My own race of people, The Notion of Family is the most honest and transparent view of how Black America, specifically although not exclusively has suffered indignities in a form of racism that has been to long overlooked and ignored by elected officials charged with ensuring a fair and just economic presence by corporations “investing” in the communities… Latoya Frazier’s unapologetic photographic depiction of Her life takes away ALL excuses that have allowed corporations AND governing bodies to hide the truth of their involvement in the demise of a promised and expected prosperity in African American communities and the generational destruction that it leaves on families trying to cope with the struggle of losing a solid financial foundation within a political culture that already makes it difficult to live beyond impoverished conditions set up by the same Institutions brought in to the community to help… The fact that Braddock, PA is one of many communities that has had to suffer from a lost of viable economic support that is gained by working is a testament to why HOW we vote is becoming more important than who We vote for, whether We vote Dem or Rep is irrelevant when both parties partake in the systemic corrosion that result in communities murdered… Whether there is strength to endure or drugs to numb the self defeating results of poverty, there has to be a change in HOW Americans allow the officials we vote in to office to remain bias and short sighted… Not supporting Bill Cosby but what He says, in respect to The Notion Of Family, ” The proof is in the pudding”, or in this case the photo…

    To Latoya Ruby Frazier, Stand Strong My Sister, Stand Strong!!!
    In Love & Light

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