Grandma Ruby and Me, 2005, from The Notion of Family











Opening Reception: Thursday, May 14, 6:00–8:00 p.m.

In Aperture Gallery’s Bookstore

In celebration of LaToya Ruby Frazier’s first book, The Notion of Family (Aperture, 2014), and in honor of her recently received Infinity Award for Publication (presented by the International Center of Photography), Aperture Foundation presents a selection of photographs and videos related to the publication and to Frazier’s ongoing work.

With her work in both photography and video, Frazier offers an incisive exploration of the legacy of racism and economic decline in America’s small towns, as embodied by her hometown of Braddock, Pennsylvania. The work also considers the impact of that decline on the community and on her family, creating a statement both personal and truly political: a complicated layering of and intervention in the histories and narratives of the region.

Frazier has compellingly set her story of three generations—her Grandma Ruby, her mother, and herself—against larger questions of civic responsibility and socioeconomic transition. The work documents her own struggles and interactions with family and the expectations of community, and includes the documentation of the demise of Braddock’s only hospital, reinforcing the idea that the history of a place is frequently written on the body as well as the landscape. With The Notion of Family, Frazier knowingly acknowledges and expands upon the traditions of classic black-and-white documentary photography, enlisting the participation of her family, and of her mother in particular. In the creation of these collaborative works, Frazier reinforces the idea of art- and image-making as a transformative act—a means of resetting traditional power dynamics and narratives, both those of her family and of the community at large.

Presented here, for the first time in New York, are recent color images that were part of Frazier’s installation Born By a River at the Seattle Art Museum. These images are an extension of her prior work and document Braddock from the air—a dramatically different vantage point by which to view her community and the landscape-in-crisis that has informed Braddock’s history and the experiences of Frazier’s family.

The Notion of Family is part of Aperture Foundation’s First Book Initiative to publish new work by emerging artists.

LaToya Ruby Frazier (born in Braddock, Pennsylvania, 1982) received her BFA in photography and graphic design in 2004 at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, and her MFA in 2007 from the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Syracuse University, New York. In 2011, Frazier completed the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program and shortly thereafter was appointed Critic in Photography at the Yale University School of Art. Currently she is an Assistant Professor in Photography at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her first New York solo exhibition, A Haunted Capital, was held at the Brooklyn Museum in 2013. Frazier has received numerous grants and awards, including a 2014 Guggenheim Fellowship and a 2015 TED Fellowship.






Aperture’s exhibitions are funded in part by an award from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and the Charina Endowment Fund.

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