LaToya named in Crain’s “40 Under 40”

Crain’s Chicago Business 40 Under 40 2017
Story by Steven R. Strahler
Photo by Stephen J. Serio

LaToya Ruby Frazier used to photograph classmates on their high school bus outside Pittsburgh. Her subjects since have been less carefree: victims of the water crisis in Flint, Mich., and her own extended working-class family.
Frazier shot to prominence—and to a TED fellowship, a Guggenheim fellowship and MacArthur Foundation “genius” status—after the 2014 publication of “The Notion of Family,” her chronicle of three generations of Fraziers in Braddock, a down-and-out Pittsburgh suburb that was home to Andrew Carnegie’s first steel mill and A&P’s original supermarket. Braddock’s population, 21,000 a century ago, is 2,000 and predominantly African-American. The largest employer, a hospital, closed in 2010.

Says Doug DuBois, an associate professor of art photography at New York’s Syracuse University, where Frazier earned an MFA, “This is a woman who photographed it with no apologies.”
Frazier’s ticket out was her eye and her camera. Her work is inspired by the photojournalism of Gordon Parks and Dorothea Lange and by the unnarrated documentaries of Albert and David Maysles. In 2016, Frazier told Flint’s tragedy through another three-generation family, spending five months on assignment for Elle magazine. “I’m advocating for their voice, visibility and credibility—this would be something Gordon (Parks) would do,” she says, while also admitting to the limitations of photography, exemplified by Lange’s iconic 1936 portrait “Migrant Mother”: “It’s a proliferated image that did not help the subject—she died destitute.”

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Courtesy of: Crain’s Chicago Business

Panel discussion with Lynn Nottage and Sandra Gould Ford

LaToya Ruby Frazier, Sandra Gould Ford in Her Office in Homewood, PA, 2017.

Labor, creativity and equity in and beyond the arts is the subject of a panel discussion with LaToya Ruby Frazier, Lynn Nottage and Sandra Gould Ford to be held Dec. 4 at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture, 980 Liberty Ave., Downtown Pittsburgh.

The panel will follow the presentation of the 2017 Carol R. Brown Creative Achievement Awards to costume designer Susan Tsu and visual artist Sarika Goulatia.

Doors open at 5:30 p.m.; the awards presentation will begin at 6 p.m. followed by the panel.
A reception will be held from 7:15-9 p.m.

The discussion is held in conjunction with “On the Making of Steel Genesis,” a collaborative exhibition between Ms. Frazier and Ms. Ford, organized by Silver Eye Center for Photography and presented at the August Wilson Center. Silver Eye executive director David Oresick will moderate. The exhibition will be open during the reception as well as a second exhibition, “Went Looking for Beauty: Refashioning Self: Photographs by Deborah Willis.”

Ms. Frazier and Ms. Ford will discuss connections between themes in their exhibition with those in Ms. Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, “Sweat.”

Admission to the event is free, but registration is required at

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by M. Thomas
Courtesy of: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

From Metal to Mettle: An Interview with Sandra Gould Ford

Sandra Gould Ford, Ingot Moulds, c. 1986.

BOMB Magazine
December 1, 2017
by Jessica Lanay

The exhibition On the Making of Steel Genesis: Sandra Gould Ford, produced in collaboration with LaToya Ruby Frazier, is at its core an encapsulation of the human body as a filter. In Sandra Gould Ford’s photographs a viewer can assess the spiritual, natural, and mental after effects of failed industry on the human body. Employing her concept of mettle, which she discusses below, Ford emphasizes the symbiosis that occurs in transformation: human bodies culling steel from iron, iron pulverized in the sky entering into human lungs, and nature overtaking former sites of industry.

The following interview expounds upon such persistence and how Ford’s life in the steel mill, and the lives of the steel workers she accompanied there, resulted in a form of alchemy within the human.

Jessica Lanay
How do you see your trajectory or your own genesis from steel worker and beginning archivist to professional memoirist and photographer now?

Sandra Gould Ford
I have always been a writer, from the time I was a child and could begin to put words on paper, but I have done it intermittently. Photography was always an interest of mine from when I got my first little Brownie Bullet camera and began to say, “Oh, I can take these really neat pictures of snow on branches or something.”

The steel mill is still an ongoing impact on my evolution, especially spiritually. But I guess also in a pragmatic sense since I didn’t go to photography school until after I left the mill, so I didn’t formally study it before. So for a lot of the images I took I was really coached on taking photographs by other steelworkers because so many of them were active photographers, as hobbyists, and they were very good.

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Courtesy of: BOMB Magazine

Intimate Debris: Nature, Industry, And The Body

November 30, 2017
by Jessica Lanay

LaToya Ruby Frazier’s photography braids together the intimacies between landscape, industry, and the Black woman’s body. Impactful, private, and silver ensconced, her images reveal a sometimes wonderful and other times tragic interdependency. In two recent Pittsburgh exhibitions—The Notion of Family at Silver Eye Center for Photography and On The Making Of Steel Genesis: Sandra Gould Ford at the August Wilson Center, a shared exhibition of photography by Frazier and Sandra Gould Ford—Frazier captures the interconnectivity between the landscape and the body and how the elements of one penetrate the other: “I believe that the history of a place is written on the body of its inhabitants and their environment,” Frazier says. “Often in my photographs, whether it’s a landscape of a house or an aerial view of railroads or a steel mill, I see the landscape as a portrait, a portrait of the body.”

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Courtesy of: ArtSlant

Frazier and artist Sandra Gould Ford honor working-class life

Pittsburgh City Paper
November 29, 2017
by Bill O’Driscoll

In 1977, while studying at the University of Pittsburgh, Sandra Gould Ford took the first of a series of clerical jobs at J&L Steel. That was five years before LaToya Ruby Frazier was born. But upon meeting, in 2015, the two women connected immediately: They were both African-American artists from Pittsburgh committed to honoring the often-forgotten experience of the working class.

The exhibit On the Making of Steel Genesis: Sandra Gould Ford, a collaboration on display at the August Wilson Center, offers a strikingly layered narrative: Acclaimed photographer Frazier tells the story of Gould, and how she told the story of Big Steel and its demise here.

Frazier is a Braddock native and MacArthur “genius-grant” winner who now splits time between Pittsburgh, New York and Chicago. Working with the Silver Eye Center for Photography (and a grant from the Pittsburgh Foundation), she spent this past August in Ford’s Homewood home and studio, poring over Ford’s remarkable (and previously unexhibited) archive of photographs she took and documents she saved at J&L’s South Side and Hazelwood plants. Ford worked for J&L until the plants were shuttered, in 1985. “They were throwing these documents away,” says Frazier. “She understood the cultural significance of it.” Together with Frazier’s own photographs of Ford, and of the former mill sites as they are today, the materials comprise Steel Genesis.

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Courtesy of: Pittsburgh City Paper

Spike Lee Reinvents His Debut in Netflix’s Superb Comedy

Photo by David Lee/Netflix

November 23, 2017
by Chris Cabin

‘She’s Gotta Have It’ Review

Not unlike Twin Peaks: The Return, Spike Lee‘s new Netflix comedy series, She’s Gotta Have It, simultaneously represents a summation and an expansion of the legendary filmmaker’s style and thematic obsessions. And like David Lynch, Lee has returned to his origins to push his art forward, reinventing his groundbreaking 1986 debut of the same name. The crucial difference is that where Lynch has continued to venture into the unknown and otherworldly, Lee has fully embraced the here and now, indulging stylistic notions that reflect memes and hashtags as well as a revitalized focus on toxic masculinity, the rampant gentrification of New York City, and the gig economy.

It’s also a series that is unapologetically black and proud. In detailing the life of Nola Darling (DeWanda Wise), a young Fort Green artist who works a number of odd jobs to make ends meet, Lee conveys a potent love for black artists and intellectuals from all corners of the spectrum, and is not timid in his celebration. In one scene, a lyricist on the soundtrack lists famed black icons from the five boroughs, from the late, great Gregory Hines to hip-hop legends the Fat Boys, and Lee lets each name appear and fade on the screen. On a date, Nola’s most business-minded suitor, Jamie Overstreet (Lyriq Bent), gifts her a copy of Claudia Rankine‘s “Citizen” and later on, Darling speaks about the influence of painter Kerry James Washington and the photographer LaToya Ruby Frazier on her work with Opal Gilstrap (Ilfenesh Hadera), her friend and occasional lover.

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Courtesy of: Collider