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LaToya Ruby Frazier
LaToya Ruby Frazier

LaToya Ruby Frazier

Country: United States
Birth: 1982

LaToya Ruby Frazier is an American artist and professor of photography at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. From Braddock, Pennsylvania, Frazier began photographing her family and hometown at the age of 16, revising the social documentary traditional of Walker Evans and Dorothea Lange to imagine documentation from within and by the community, and collaboration between the photographer and her subjects. Inspired by Gordon Parks, who promoted the camera as a weapon for social justice, Frazier uses her tight focus to make apparent the impact of systemic problems, from racism to deindustrialization to environmental degradation, on individual bodies, relationships and spaces. In her work, she is concerned with bringing to light these problems, which she describes as global issues.

Speaking to The New York Times about her position, Frazier said: "We need longer sustained stories that reflect and tell us where the prejudices and blind spots are and continue to be in this culture and society... This is a race and class issue that is affecting everyone. It is not a black problem, it is an American problem, it is a global problem. Braddock is everywhere." Frazier has been extensively educated in photography through education at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania (BFA), Syracuse University (MFA), the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program, and she was the Guna S. Mundheim Fellow for Visual Arts at the American Academy in Berlin.

The photographic work of LaToya Ruby Frazier includes both images of personal spaces, intensely private moments and the story of racial and economic injustice in America. Her work includes raw portraits of friends and family members in intimate moments and examples of social injustice. As Frazier explains, "the collaboration between my family and myself blurs the line between self-portraiture and social documentary". Often her work focuses on the plight of her home town of Braddock, Pennsylvania which became financially depressed after the collapse of the steel industry in the 1970–80s. With black and white photographs, Frazier highlights the beauty of Braddock and how this town has impacted her family's life along with other residents. Her still photographs have a raw sense of strength and vulnerability juxtaposed in an honest and personal way. Besides working on her most famous work Notion of Family, Frazier has worked with other contemporary issues such as the Flint water crisis. This particular project depicts and focuses on a young woman and her family living their everyday lives amongst the crucial water conditions within their lower-class Flint community. She recently contributed photographs to a New York Times project, Why America's Black Mothers and Babies are in a Life-or-Death Crisis.

Informed by documentary practices from the turn of the last century, Frazier explores identities of place, race, and family in work that is a hybrid of self-portraiture and social narrative. Her primary subjects of these portraits are Frazier's Grandma Ruby (1925-2009), her mother (b. 1959), and the artist herself. The crumbling landscape of Braddock, Pennsylvania, a once-thriving steel town, forms the backdrop of her images, which make manifest both the environmental and infrastructural decay caused by postindustrial decline and the lives of those who continue—largely by necessity—to live among it. As Frazier says, "I see myself as an artist and a citizen that's documenting and telling the story and building the archive of working-class families facing all this change that's happening, because it has to be documented." Through her own family she has been able to recount the history of Braddock by way of the generations who experienced it. Her work begins dialogues about class structure, history, and social responsibility.

A 2018 special issue of Atlantic Magazine featured aerial photography and an essay by Frazier documenting the impact of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. on the landscapes of Memphis, Chicago and Baltimore. Frazier's work was featured in the 2019 New York Times Magazine Money Issue for her photo essay on the people of Lordstown, Ohio after the General Motors plant shut down.

Source: Wikipedia


Frazier’s radical empathy has brought her to places whose occupants have every reason to distrust outsiders. She photographs communities gutted by unemployment, poverty, racism and environmental degradation, seeking out subjects dehumanized or ignored by the mainstream media. At 39, she sees her life’s work as an archive of humanity, one that particularly documents the courage and diversity of blue-collar workers and the consequences of the policies that condemn them to struggle. For her, this is what it means to be a patriot. “I am showing these dark things about America because I love my country and countrymen,” she said. “When you love somebody, you tell them the truth. Even if it hurts.”

Socially conscious artistic practices may be in vogue these days, but Frazier goes beyond hollow claims of “raising awareness” with an essay in a magazine or a show at an art museum. She is the rare photographer who approaches relationships with her subjects as lifelong commitments, and who tries to make substantial, material differences in their lives. Frazier’s conviction in art that involves — and transforms — entire communities aligns her with Rick Lowe, an artist who, with his collaborators, famously converted an underserved swath of Houston into a nexus for housing, art programming and neighborhood development activities. She also carries on the legacy of the German artist Joseph Beuys, who believed that participatory art could heal society. Frazier, though, pursues these conceptual ideals while still producing formally elegant images using traditional techniques. Working mainly with a medium-format camera and black-and-white film, her intimate domestic portraits and expressive landscapes are classically beautiful, even when they depict harrowing realities. Making photographs as poetic as they are political is, for Frazier, a way of honoring her subjects. “She doesn’t pop in and pop out,” said the artist Carrie Mae Weems, Frazier’s friend and early mentor. “These are long-term projects that deeply matter, not only to her but to the community and, ultimately, I think, to the nation.”

Source: The New York Times


 

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Oriol Torra Segon
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Gregori Maiofis
Russia
1970
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John Moffat
United Kingdom
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He continued to advertise from that address until at least 1849. On the 19th May 1847 John married Ellen Notman (aka Helen Notman) at South Leith, Midlothian, Scotland. John’s first child, Ellen Jane Moffat, was born c 1849 according to the 1851 census when she was stated as being two years old. Ellen was also known as Nelly. She grew up to work in the photography business and was living with John in 1881 according to the census that year despite her mother and father getting a divorce many years beforehand. The census in 1851 shows John, aged 31, at 1 Windsor Street, Edinburgh with his young daughter Ellen J Moffat and a 20-year-old servant called Margaret Rae. His occupation was stated as a picture engraver master. It is almost certain that John and his wife Ellen had parted, and more probably had divorced, at this stage. On 22 June 1851 John married his second wife, Sophia Maria Knott, whose brother was the photographer James Brown Knott. John and Sophia were married in Edinburgh. Mr Kennedy / Scottish National Portrait GalleryCreative Commons CC by NC © John Moffat John Moffat started his first photographic studio in 1853 but he was still advertising his skills as an engraver from the same address in 1854; apparently, he was migrating from engraver to photographer during this period. He certainly confirmed 1853 as the date that his photography business was established by printing the fact on the reverse of his carte de visite mounts. John’s second child, and his first child with his new wife Sophia, was born in 1854 and named Frank Pelham Moffat. Frank was very involved with the family firm from the early 1870s and he eventually took over when his father died in 1894. Frank was also a fine photographer and was involved at an early stage in colour photography – probably using the Autochrome process. Another child, Sophia Elizabeth Moffat was born in 1856. She never married and lived on until the 1930s. John and Sophia had a second son, Fred (John F) Moffat, in or about 1857. Kate Rankin Moffat was born on the 30 November 1859 and remained a spinster all her life. She is said to have had an active life and embraced new ideas such as motor cars. She died in 1954 in Edinburgh. John Moffat is said to have taken a set of daguerreotype photographs of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert when they visited the Crystal Palace Exhibition in London in 1855 although the whereabouts of these photographs is not now known. The Photographic Society of Scotland was formed in March 1856 and John Moffat was an active member so he would have met many early photographers and photographic researchers including Sir David Brewster and William Henry Fox Talbot who John later photographed in his studio at 103 Princes Street in 1864. A unique Day Book is still in existence from 1856 to 1858 and contains details of the studio customers, charges, expenses and profits on a weekly basis. It also records, interestingly, details of the weather which appears to have had a significant effect on business turnover. In 1857 John went to France and eventually went to Canada to become a farmer. By 1858 John had moved his studio again to 60 Princes Street, an address that is connected to his brother-in-law James Brown Knott. At that time, the carte de visite had not become popular and John would have still been producing ambrotypes in smart little cases. Kate Rankin Moffat was born on 30 November 1859 and remained a spinster all her life. She is said to have had an active life and embraced new ideas such as motor cars. She died in 1954 in Edinburgh. Arthur Elwell Moffat was born later in 1861 and went on to be a painter in watercolour and oils as well as a musician. He exhibited on many occasions and won medals for his work. It is likely that he worked in the family business as a colourist. Arthur died in 1943. In 1861 John Moffat moved his studio again, this time further west along Princes Street to better premises at 103 Princes Street where he stayed until 1875. In the same year he became a member of the Council of the prestigious Photographic Society of Scotland. The family continued to grow when Alfred Edward Moffat was born on the 4th December 1863. Alfred became very musical and played the violin and was a musical arranger. He studied in Germany where he met a local girl and got married. Alfred died in the 1950s. John and Sophia’s last child was a daughter called Alice May Moffat. She grew up and married a prominent local businessman – James Watt – a member of the Edinburgh Stock Exchange. Unknown Man with White Beard / Scottish National Portrait GalleryCreative Commons CC by NC © John Moffat The Photographic Society of Scotland, of which John was a Council Member, was wound up in 1871 and was effectively replaced by the Edinburgh Photographic Society. John Moffat later became the President of the Edinburgh Photographic Society until shortly before his death in 1894. 1873 was a major year in the life of the Moffat photographic enterprise as John moved into a prestigious studio at 125 Princes Street. This studio was run in parallel with the one at 103 Princes Street until 1875 and then became the sole outlet until the 1920s; way after John Moffat’s death. John was a determined businessman and turned to the courts on more than one occasion. In the autumn of 1875 John Moffat took another well-known Edinburgh photographer, Robertson Ross of Ross & Pringle, to court for non-payment for photographic work carried out. He won his case. An interesting article about John’s studio appeared in the Mercantile Age on the 9th September 1887 which described a visit to 125 Princes Street. A description of the way that children were photographed was particularly interesting, as follows: "Above this room (the main studio) is another room with a stronger light than the one below, and eminently suitable for taking children’s portraits. The cameras used here have wonderfully sensitive pneumatic shutters, so instantaneous and noiseless in their action that frequently the operator can engage the attention of the sitter by some pleasing manoeuvre, and when his educated eye catches a pleasing expression, he can without moving from his position, command chemicals and old Sol to instantly do the rest before the young patron is aware of it." In a second section, the reporter comments on John Moffat’s business acumen as follows "We are please to notice that everywhere great economy is manifest. Mr. Moffat, understanding the chemistry of his trade, is successful in recovering a very great quantity of his silver. We witnessed the operation of washing and recovering, and we were altogether taken by surprise at the percentage of the chloride of silver recovered" Other comments from elsewhere also support this view that John Moffat was a canny businessman and that he was always interested in new ideas and processes. John Moffat died on the 5th. March 1894 and an obituary was printed in the British Journal of Photography in the March issue of that year. A quote from the end of the obituary is very touching – "He was ever kind and considerate to his employees and generous in his treatment of them, while, in ordinary business matters all knew him to be honourable and upright in the highest degree".Source: www.cartedevisite.co.uk
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