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Seattle Art Museum opens LaToya Ruby Frazier: Born By a River

Seattle Art Museum presents LaToya Ruby Frazier: Born By a River on view December 13, 2013–June 22, 2014.

LaToya Ruby Frazier, recipient of Seattle Art Museum’s (SAM) 2013 Gwendolyn Knight and Jacob Lawrence Prize, investigates issues of propaganda, politics, and the importance of subjectivity with an emphasis on postmodern conditions, class, and capitalism in her new solo exhibition, LaToya Ruby Frazier: Born By a River. Opening at SAM on December 13, the show runs through June 22, 2014.

In 1963, R&B singer-songwriter Sam Cooke recorded “A Change Is Gonna Come.” This heartfelt song became an anthem for the 1960s’ American Civil Rights Movement. The title of this installation is borrowed from the opening lyrics of this powerful song. Frazier was also inspired by a speech given in the 1930s by noted scholar W.E.B. DuBois about his life growing up next to a river.

Frazier is a photographer and media artist whose practice is informed by late 19th- and early 20th-century modes of representation. Her work is an intimate look at her family, connecting their experiences to the history of her hometown, and its drastic decline from one of America’s first steel mill towns to the distressed municipality it is today. This exhibition at SAM includes photographs from two ever-growing bodies of work—those taken at the street level (The Notion of Family) and those taken from the sky above Braddock. She chartered a helicopter and photographed her community aerially, providing a dramatically different vantage point by which to view the community she called home.

In 1982, Frazier was born next to the Monongahela River in Braddock, Pennsylvania, which is located nine miles outside of Pittsburgh. It is home to industrialist Andrew Carnegie’s first steel mill, the Edgar Thomson Works, which is his last functioning mill in the Mon Valley region. Like Gordon Parks, Dorothea Lange, and Allan Sekula, Frazier uses the camera to call attention to complex and challenging conditions.

LaToya Ruby Frazier: Born By a River is curated by Sandra Jackson-Dumont, SAM’s Adjunct Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art and Kayla Skinner Deputy Director of Education and Public Programs.

About the Knight-Lawrence Prize
The Gwendolyn Knight | Jacob Lawrence Prize is awarded biannually to an early career black artist who has been producing work for less than ten years. The 2011 prize was awarded to Theaster Gates, and Titus Kaphar received the inaugural prize in 2009.

The prize was created to provide inspiration for young black artists. Biannually, nominations are requested from an anonymous roster of distinguished and celebrated artists, curators and cultural producers who have their fingers on the pulse of contemporary black artistic practice. Funding for the prize is provided by the Gwendolyn Knight and Jacob Lawrence Endowment.

As part of the prize, Frazier was honored with a 10,000 USD award to further her artistic practice as well as a solo exhibition at SAM in the Gwendolyn Knight and Jacob Lawrence Gallery. This gallery honors the legacy of these two renowned artists, their contributions to the artistic landscape and their support of the Seattle Art Museum.

SAM Downtown
1300 First Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101-2003