LaToya Ruby Frazier: Monuments of Solidarity Opens May 12

The Museum of Modern Art announces LaToya Ruby Frazier: Monuments of Solidarity, the first museum survey dedicated to the artist-activist, on view at MoMA from May 12 through September 7, 2024. For more than two decades, Frazier has used photography, text, moving images, and performance to revive and preserve forgotten narratives of labor, gender, and race in the postindustrial era. Bringing together work from 2001 to 2024, this exhibition highlights the full range of Frazier’s practice to date and includes several rarely- and never-before-seen works. LaToya Ruby Frazier: Monuments of Solidarity is organized by Roxana Marcoci, The David Dechman Senior Curator and Acting Chief Curator, with Antoinette D. Roberts and Caitlin Ryan, Curatorial Assistants, Department of Photography.

Born in 1982 in the steel town of Braddock, Pennsylvania, Frazier has cultivated a practice that critically builds on the legacy of the social documentary tradition of the 1930s, the photo-conceptual forays of the 1960s and 1970s, and the work of socially conscious writers like Upton Sinclair, James Baldwin, and bell hooks. Frazier’s work sheds light on pressing social and political issues, including those spurred by industrialization and deindustrialization, racial and environmental injustice, gender disparities, unequal access to healthcare and potable water, and the erosion or denial of fundamental human 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 within histories of labor and the working class, of who and what is worth celebrating,” said Marcoci.

“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,” Frazier pointed out.

For the MoMA exhibition, Frazier has reimagined several of her diverse bodies of work, including The Notion of Family (2001–14), Who Gets to Go Forth (Demystifying the Myth of the Urban Pioneer) (2012), Flint Is Family in Three Acts (2016–20), and On the Making of Steel Genesis: Sandra Gould Ford (2017), as a sequence of original installations that she has called “monuments for workers’ thoughts.” The exhibition will also feature two celebrated installations by Frazier and one brand-new work. More Than Conquerors: A Monument for Community Health Workers of Baltimore, Maryland (2022), made in the wake of the COVID- 19 pandemic, was awarded the Carnegie Prize at the 58th Carnegie International in Pittsburgh. The Last Cruze (2019), a work in MoMA’s collection that will be on view in New York for the first time, recounts the activities of United Auto Workers union members facing the closure of an auto plant in Lordstown, Ohio. A never-before-shown monument will celebrate the achievements of workers’ rights activist Dolores Huerta and her legacy as a union leader and a mother. Centered on an eight-foot-tall portrait of Huerta, the work honors a woman who has been obscured by better-known male figures in US labor histories.

A richly illustrated catalogue will accompany the exhibition, featuring a manifesto by the artist and a lead essay by Marcoci, as well as essays by scholars Emilie Boone, Carson Chan, Oluremi C. Onabanjo, and Delphine Sims.

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