University of Chicago
5811 S. Ellis Ave., 4th Fl.
Chicago, IL 60637
Artist talk at 6pm during Opening Reception, Saturday September 14
The Renaissance Society announces an upcoming exhibition of new work by LaToya Ruby Frazier, The Last Cruze. The acclaimed visual artist is known for collaborative storytelling with the people who appear in her photographs, videos, texts, interviews, and performances. In The Last Cruze she brings this approach to Lordstown, Ohio: over the last few months, she has been working closely with the automotive union there, United Auto Workers Local 1112, to shed light on the economic catastrophe that the workers and their families are currently facing.
For more than fifty years, General Motors has had a major production site in Lordstown, but the historic plant there was “unallocated” by the company earlier this year, despite a commitment to manufacture the Chevrolet Cruze at this location until 2021. Employees can apply to be relocated to another plant, in a different part of the country, but those who choose not to be uprooted will be cut off from the company, losing all their benefits. These developments in Lordstown have brought wide-spread attention to the small Rust Belt town, which has emerged as a political flashpoint and been cited as symptomatic of shifting economic trends.
Frazier remarks, “While one of General Motors’ company slogans is ‘Family First,’ my work in The Last Cruze reveals a corporate culture of union-busting, profits over people, and the destruction of families and an entire community.”
Featuring photographs and other audio-visual elements, The Last Cruze introduces a significant new chapter in Frazier’s investigations of labor, family, and community. Throughout her practice, Frazier uses photography to create a platform of social justice and visual representation for working-class families. This is rooted in her commitment to adding to the legacies of 1930s social documentary work and to asserting the continued relevance of 1960s and 70s conceptual photographic practices that address urgent social and political issues of everyday life.
As she works across a variety of geographic settings—including Flint, Michigan, the Borinage mining region in Belgium, her hometown of Braddock, Pennsylvania, and now Ohio—Frazier continues to develop a timely, nuanced, and increasingly ambitious view of working-class life. Frazier’s new work in Lordstown creates a platform for the workers who are directly affected by the plant’s changing status, bringing forward their own relationships to an urgent subject that connects the local with the global.
A monograph with multiple new essays, published by the Renaissance Society, will accompany the exhibition.
The Last Cruze is curated by Solveig Øvstebø and Karsten Lund, and it will travel to the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio in early 2020.
A selection of Frazier’s images and interviews from Lordstown is presented in a photo essay in the May 5 issue of The New York Times Magazine.
LaToya Ruby Frazier’s (b. 1982) work has been exhibited widely, including solo and group exhibitions at MUDAM, Luxembourg; CAPC Muséed’Art Contemporain de Bordeaux, France; MAC’s Musée des Arts Contemporains de la Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles, Belgium; Carréd’Art, Nîmes; The Brooklyn Museum; Contemporary Art Museum, Houston; Seattle Art Museum; the 2012 Whitney Biennial; MCA Chicago; the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art; and Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, among others. Frazier is currently Associate Professor of Photography at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and she is represented by Gavin Brown’s Enterprise (New York | Rome). She is also the recipient of numerous fellowships, including the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellows Award (2015), TED Fellows (2015), the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (2014), and USA Artists (2014).
This exhibition is supported by Mirja and Ted Haffner, Mary Frances Budig and John Hass, and The Hartfield Foundation.
Image: LaToya Ruby Frazier, Eugene (Red) Adams, Eugene Jr. (Andy) Adams, Bill Adams and Dan Adams, The Last Cruze, 2019. Courtesy of the artist and Gavin Brown’s Enterprise New York | Rome