Photographer LaToya Ruby Frazier, Assistant Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, has won a 2015 MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” of $625,000, the foundation announced early this morning. Ms. Frazier was the only African American woman among 24 artists and scientists selected as MacArthur Fellows this year.
In a video released by the MacArthur Foundation, LaToya said she was “overjoyed” because the grant gives her the opportunity “to continue to make meaningful work and to have a purposeful life.”
Frazier’s work explores issues of race, class, environment and community health by documenting her family against a backdrop of deindustrialization and economic decline in her hometown of Braddock, Pennsylvania. “There’s no recognition paid to the labor and the lives that were given to the factory and the town,” she says in the MacArthur Foundation video. “I realized I could honor my family’s legacy…by documenting our lives…It’s my job and duty to be a witness to what’s happening.”