LaToya Ruby Frazier Makes Moving Pictures | ART21 “New York Close Up”

A Documentary Series on Art and Life in the City

Released February 10, 2012

In this video from New York Close Up, LaToya talks about her collaboration with her mother.

<p><a href=”″>LaToya Ruby Frazier Makes Moving Pictures | ART21 &quot;New York Close Up&quot;</a> from <a href=”″>ART21</a&gt; on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

If the video does not appear, click on this link or visit the blog.

From the video, some thoughts from LaToya:

People think that families struggling economically don’t add value to society.  It became about making a family album of images, day to day that defies what I see in the media….”

I was combating stereotypes of someone like my Mother and I who are often depicted in the media in the most dehumanizing was, as poor, worthless or on welfare. We found a way to deal with these types of problems on our own through photographing each other.  I realized it’s important to give the camera to my family and also become the subject of the work….

I’ve always been in the shadow of the steel mill.


Politics for the People Conference Call

With LaToya Ruby Frazier

Sunday, December 6th at 7 pm EST


641 715-3605

Code 767775#



MacArthur Genius Comes to P4P

Our next selection is a first for P4P on two counts: Our first guest who is a MacArthur Genius Award Winner.  And our first photo book!

Our next selection is the award winning The Notion Of Family by LaToya Ruby Frazier. The book is a powerful exploration of LaToya’s hometown of Braddock PA, the home of the first Carnegie steel mill which opened in 1875.

The Notion of Family

The book powerfully takes the viewer into LaToya’s family and hometown.  In the video she made after receiving the MacArthur Foundation 2015 Genius Award, LaToya says three things I wanted to share as we get ready to examine her book:

I make work that deals with the intersection of the steel industry, environmental racism and the health care crisis.

There aren’t many stories about African American families from Braddock.  There’s no recognition paid to the labor and the lives that were given to the factory and the town.

I think that it’s important to use the camera when you’re dealing with these things that we erase, and avoid and pretend that aren’t there.  It’ s my job and duty to be a witness to what’s happening.

Give a look and listen to this video of LaToya talking about The Notion of Family and her reaction to receiving the MacArthur Foundation Grant.

(It you do not see the video screen, you can view it through this link.)

LaToya Ruby Frazier’s profile from the MacArthur Foundation is at the end of the post.   You can get a copy of The Notion of Family directly from the publisher, Aperture.

Politics for the People Conference Call

With LaToya Ruby Frazier

Sunday, December 6th at 7 pm EST


641 715-3605

Code 767775#




Meet the 2015 MacArthur Fellows

These 24 delightfully diverse MacArthur Fellows are shedding light and making progress on critical issues, pushing the boundaries of their fields, and improving our world in imaginative, unexpected ways,” said MacArthur President Julia Stasch. “Their work, their commitment, and their creativity inspire us all.

LaToya Ruby Frazier

Photographer and Video Artist

Assistant Professor, Department of Photography

School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Chicago, Illinois

Age: 33

Published September 28, 2015

The Notion of Familya series of unflinching black-and-white photographs, shows her mother, grandmother, and the artist herself in a Braddock unmoored by disinvestment and demographic decline. Frazier’s stark portraits underscore the connection between self and physical space and make visible the consequences of neglect and abandonment—unemployment, environmental health crises, and lack of access to services—for Braddock’s historically marginalized working-class African American community. In a photolithograph and silkscreen print series from 2011, entitled Campaign for Braddock Hospital (“Save Our Community Hospital”), Frazier sets up an ironic juxtaposition between upbeat consumer capitalism and the challenges of working people. Images of Braddock from a 2010 Levi Strauss campaign bearing the slogan “Ready to Work” are set in counterpoint to quotes from Braddock residents about the closure of the town’s only hospital—and its principal employer—that same year.

In more recent photographic work, Frazier documents Braddock from the skies in full-color aerial shots that record the extensive transformations of a community after years of economic collapse. Frazier’s uncompromising and moving work illustrates how contemporary photography can open conversations about American history, class structures, and social responsibility.
LaToya Ruby Frazier received a B.F.A. (2004) from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and an M.F.A. (2007) from Syracuse University. She held artist residencies at the Lower Manhattan Culture Council (2009–2010) and the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program (2010–2011) and was the Guna S. Mundheim Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin (2013–2014) before assuming her current position as assistant professor in the Department of Photography at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Frazier’s work has appeared in numerous exhibitions, including solo shows at the Brooklyn Museum, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, the Seattle Art Museum, and the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston. The Notion of Family, Frazier’s first book, was published in 2014.

– See more at:

An Interview with P4P Founder

In March of this year, I taped an interview for None of the Above a popular cable TV program hosted by Steven Nemerovski that airs on The Grassroots Community Network in Colorado.  Steven’s show explores the causes of the dysfunction and polarization in our political process and what the “solution sets” are.  Our segment was part of Steven’s ongoing “Difference Maker Series”.

We had a lively conversation about the Politics for the People book club that I think you will enjoy.  Also, please visit None of the Above and take a look at their recent programs.


Note: if you can’t see the video in your email, visit the blog or you can click here.

After Words with Eric Foner


Eric Foner talked about his book Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad, in which he examines the efforts of free blacks and white abolitionists to secure freedom for fugitive slaves during the mid-19th century. In his book, the author recounts the development of the New York Vigilance Committee in 1835 as protection against slave kidnappings that occurred in New York City. This group spawned similar organizations throughout the North and ultimately lead to a network that secured the freedom of over 3,000 slaves. He spoke with Edna Greene Medford, chair of the history department at Howard University.

Hope you will listen to the video below.

Edna Greene Medford, Chair of the History Department at Howard University interviews Eric Foner

Edna Greene Medford, Chair of the History Department at Howard University interviews Eric Foner






Politics for the People Conference Call

with Eric Foner

Sunday, April 19th at 7 pm EST

Meeting Lincoln through Jerome Charyn’s I Am Abraham

Hope everyone has gotten their copy of I Am Abraham: A Novel of Lincoln and The Civil War by Jerome Charyn.

I am always interested in how a book gets its title.  In the case of our current selection, “I Am Abraham“, the title refers to the first words that Abraham Lincoln ever wrote.

To enhance your reading:

Here is a short YouTube video of Jerome Charyn talking with Jack Ford about his novel, filled with tidbits to enjoy.


If the video does not appear you can see it here.

And here is a short review that appeared in The New Yorker last year.

Books MARCH 17, 2014 ISSUE

Briefly Noted


I AM ABRAHAM, by Jerome Charyn (Liveright). This daring novel narrates the life of Abraham Lincoln, focussing less on the broad strokes of history and wartime politics than on the intimate daily life of the Lincoln household. The portrayal of Mary as a Kentucky belle whose assertiveness had no socially acceptable outlets in her time, and whose fits of madness rivalled Lincoln’s own depressions, is particularly memorable. Secondary characters, some real and some imagined, include a feisty female Pinkerton who saves Lincoln’s life from an assassination attempt. Charyn’s richly textured portrait captures the pragmatism, cunning, despair, and moral strength of a man who could have empathy for his bitterest foes, and who “had never outgrown the forest and a dirt floor.”


Our conference call

with Jerome Charyn will be on

Sunday, February 15th at 7 pm EST.

Listen to the Declaration

As we prepare for our conversation with Danielle Allen, I wanted to offer this recording of the Declaration of Independence.  It runs for just over 10 minutes. The Declaration is a remarkably short document at 1,137 words.

As you listen, be thinking of your questions for Dr. Allen.  What lessons does the Declaration hold for us today?  What have you been thinking about Dr. Allen’s thesis, put forth at the start of her book– “Equality and liberty–these are the summits of human empowerment; they are the twinned foundations of democracy.   What fragile foundations they are!”



Book Club Conference Call with Danielle Allen

Sunday, October 19th at 7 pm EST

Call in number 805 399-1200

Access code 767775#

Radio Boston Interview with Alex Myers

This Sunday, we will have the opportunity to talk with Alex Myers from 7-8 pm EST on our next Politics for the People Book Club conference call.  I know that many of us have questions we are eager to ask Alex.  The call in number for the conference call is 805 399-1200 and the access code is 767775#.  

Anthony Brooks from Radio Boston did a great interview with Alex in January, a nice prelude to our conversation.  Hope you will put Revolutionary down for a moment and give a listen:

America’s First Female Soldier

                                                                   Deborah Sampson (Credit: Wikipedia)
“Alex Myers‘ new novel, Revolutionary, tells the story of 22 year-old weaver who yearns for something more. She feels trapped in 18th Century Massachusetts, and tells her closest friend, “There is a world out there, beyond weaving, beyond housework.” So she cuts her hair, disguises herself as a man, and fights heroically in the Continental Army. The gripping novel is based on the true story of Deborah Sampson  – recognized as a true hero in America’s war for independence. In 1983, the Massachusetts legislature named her the official state heroine and declared May 23rd Deborah Sampson Day. That her story inspired author Alex Myers is understandable. Myers is a female-to-male transgender person, was the first openly transgender student at Harvard, and over the years, has campaigned for transgender rights. His unique perspective reminds us that conversations around gender identity are hardly modern….”

Alex Myers on Revolutionary

Here is a short video of Alex Myers talking about Revolutionary.   I think you will really enjoy hearing Alex speak about his journey to create a fictionalized look at the life of Deborah Samson.

Give it a look.

Alex Myers on Revolutionary


Our conversation with Alex is Sunday, April 13th at 7 pm.  Shoot me a note about your thoughts as you are reading the book.

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