“It is incumbent upon me to resist—one photograph at a time, one photo essay at a time, one body of work at a time, one book at a time, one workers’ monument at a time—historical erasure and amnesia,” says artist-activist LaToya Ruby Frazier. Born in 1982 in the steel manufacturing town of Braddock, Pennsylvania, Frazier has used photography, text, moving images, and performance to revive and preserve forgotten stories of labor, gender, and race in the postindustrial era. LaToya Ruby Frazier: Monuments of Solidarity surveys the full range of the artist’s practice, highlighting her role as a social advocate and connector of the cultural and working classes in the 21st century.
For this exhibition, Frazier has reimagined her diverse bodies of work as a sequence of original installations that she calls “monuments for workers’ thoughts,” which address the harmful effects of industrialization and deindustrialization, the healthcare inequities facing Black working-class communities in the Rust Belt, the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan, and the impact of the closure of a General Motors plant in Lordstown, Ohio. Monuments of Solidarity celebrates the expressions of creativity, mutual support, and intergenerational collaboration that persist in light of these denials of fundamental labor, human, and civil rights. As a form of Black feminist world-building, these nontraditional “monuments'' demand recognition of the crucial role that women and people of color have played and continue to play in histories of labor and the working class.
Organized by Roxana Marcoci, The David Dechman Senior Curator and Acting Chief Curator, with Caitlin Ryan, Assistant Curator, and Antoinette D. Roberts, former Curatorial Assistant, Department of Photography.