August 14, 2019

LaToya Ruby Frazier
Flint is Family

Newcomb Art Museum of Tulane University

LaToya Ruby Frazier, Students and Residents outside Northwestern High School (est. 1964) awaiting the arrival of President Barack Obama, May 4th 2016, I, 2016 / 2017. Gelatin silver print. Courtesy of the artist and Gavin Brown's enterprise, New York / Rome.

Newcomb Art Museum of Tulane University is pleased to announce its upcoming exhibition, LaToya Ruby Frazier: Flint is Family, opening August 21, 2019, with a scheduled run through December 14, 2019.

In 2016, artist, activist, and MacArthur genius awardee LaToya Ruby Frazier spent five months living in Flint, Michigan with three generations of women—the poet Shea Cobb, her mother Renee, and daughter Zion—observing their day-to-day lives as they endured one of the most devastating human-made, environmental tragedies in US history: the lead contamination water crisis in their hometown. The artistic result of Frazier’s time there is reflected in the works presented in the exhibition Flint is Family.

“Through photographs, videos, and text I use my artwork as a platform to advocate for others, the oppressed, the disenfranchised,” says Frazier. In Flint is Family, Frazier explores at the level of community, the effects of the water crisis in Flint–where black residents make up 54% of the population and 40% of the population lives below the poverty line. “When I encounter an individual or family facing inequality, I create visibility through images and storytelling to expose the violation of their rights.”

By portraying the daily struggles of the Cobb family, Frazier uses a tight focus to create a story about the impact of a systemic problem disproportionately affecting marginalized communities. Frazier rejects the voyeuristic photographs that emerged from outside media sources, collaborating closely with her subjects through photographs and capturing intimate moments alongside the myriad challenges the family faced without access to clean water.

A concurrent exhibition, The American Dream Denied: The New Orleans Residents of Gordon Plaza Seek Relocation, organized by students from Tulane University's Critical Visualization and Media Lab and led by Tulane sociology and environmental studies professor Christopher Oliver, PhD, will explore the lived experiences of local New Orleans communities impacted by pollution.

“By hosting the Louisiana premiere of Frazier’s work at the Newcomb Art Museum alongside an in-depth look at the issues facing the residents of Gordon Plaza, we are bringing meaningful, enriching, and transformative exhibitions of socially-engaged art to Tulane and New Orleans,” says Monica Ramirez-Montagut, Newcomb Art Museum Director. “These exhibitions explore the concerns of communities both on and off campus while recognizing underrepresented communities and the contributions of women to the field. Frazier’s artistic practice centers on the nexus of social justice and cultural change and tells an important story of the American experience that certainly echoes with our own Louisiana environmental crisis as seen in The American Dream Denied. It is our hope that all who visit the museum this fall will engage with the stories told through the art and leave with a renewed understanding of the effects of environmental pollution on marginalized communities.”

Related events

Exhibition-inspired Family Day
September 7, 10am–2pm, with activities for all ages

Artist talk with LaToya Ruby Frazier
October 2, 6–8pm, with a reception following the talk

Uncommon Exchanges gallery talk
October 15, 6:30–8pm, with Pippin Frisbie-Calder and Jordan Karubian

Women of Cancer Alley film screening
October 22, 7–9pm

Green film screening
November 5, 7–9pm

Admission to the Newcomb Art Museum is free and open to all; more information on hours, events, and programs can be found at or by calling T 504 865 5328.

LaToya Ruby Frazier: Flint is Family originated at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum FIU, Miami and was organized by Maryanna G. Ramirez and coordinated for the Newcomb Art Museum by Monica Ramirez-Montagut, PhD and Laura Blereau.

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