La Toya Ruby Fraizer
La Toya Ruby Fraizer was born in Pittsburgh and received her BFA in Photography and Graphic Design from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. She received her MFA in Art Photography from the School of Visual Performing Arts at Syracuse University. La Toya’s work has been exhibited widely and in 2007, she won the Geraldine Dodge Fellowship Award. She has has worked as a photo editor for Newsweek and is currently the Associate Curator for the Mason Gross Galleries in the Department of Visual Arts where she also teaches Digital photography in the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, New Brunswick NJ. She will be having her first solo show at the David Castillo Gallery in Miami in December.
La Toya’s images of family are honest and intense, creating a tension between documentary, self-revelatory, and psychological explorations. The Notion of Family allows us a window into her journey of self discovery.
The collaboration between my family and myself blurs the line between self-portraiture and social document. Utilizing photography and video to navigate dynamics of the roles we play complicates the usual classifications of functional and dysfunctional families. My work has a deep concern for the mother/ daughter relationship. Relentlessly documenting encounters with Grandma Ruby (b.1925), Mom (b.1959) and myself (b.1982) enables me to break unspoken intergenerational cycles. We are wrestling with internalized life experiences, perceptions of our-selves and familial personas developed by sociopolitical baggage.
The role of the male figure; father, brother, lover and son resides in the visual tensions of a dying old man; Gramps, my adolescent cousin; JC, Mom’s boyfriends and a soldier; my brother Sergeant Brandon Frazier. They indicate the absence of men in the household. Grandma Ruby played the role of mother to me and JC, and caretaker to her father, Gramps. Being home consisted of routine checks on Gramps who screamed for help to be picked up off the floor or carried to the bathroom. If we were not tending to Gramps we sat in separate rooms. Family secrets, hidden history and constant silence defined our coexistence.
Mom is co-author, artist, photographer and subject. Our relationship primarily exists through a process of making images together. I see beauty in all her imperfections and abuse. Her drug addiction is secondary to our psychological connection. When we are photographing one another we meditate on our difference and sameness. Holiday visits home rupture the silent familial gaze in our experimental documentary series A Mother to Hold. Through the first person point of view, the camera becomes a magnet attracting and repelling; the viewer has the access to experience and acknowledge our relationship without judgment.
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