THE GORDON PARKS FOUNDATION in Pleasantville, N.Y., provides support and opportunities to artists whose practices “reflect and extend” the legacy of Gordon Parks, using photography as a tool for social justice and cultural change.

Extending its program of scholarships, awards, and fellowships, the foundation announced a new book prize established in partnership with Steidl, the Göttingen, Germany-based art book publisher. On Feb. 6, LaToya Ruby Frazier was named the inaugural recipient of the Gordon Parks Foundation/Steidl Book Prize.

An associate professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Frazier received a Gordon Parks Foundation Award in 2016 and was named a MacArthur “Genius” Fellow in 2015.

Frazier’s powerful practice blends fine art, documentary photography, journalism, and activism. Her work brings attention to the specific experiences of communities in crisis and more universal socio-political issues such as access to affordable healthcare, quality education, livable wages, clean water, and voting rights.

Major series have included The Notion of Family, a personal body of work centered around Frazier, her mother, and grandmother, that explores family history, environmental racism, healthcare inequality, and the lethal legacy of the steel industry in her hometown of Braddock, Pa.

Flint is Family examines the man-made water crisis in Flint, Mich., through the experiences of three generations of women in one family. In September, Frazier gave a TED Talk about the water crisis. Newer series focus on the experiences of coal miners and auto workers.

The Last Cruze documents the fate of union laborers in Lordstown, Ohio, when the local General Motors plant stops production of the Chevrolet Cruz in March 2019 after making a commitment to produce it until 2021. More than 60 photographs from the series are currently on view in “LaToya Ruby Frazier: The Last Cruze” at the Wexner Center for the Arts at The Ohio State University in Columbus.

The Gordon Parks Foundation/Steidl Book Prize provides a publishing opportunity for an early or mid-career artist to showcase new work and includes a related exhibition and programming. Frazier’s book will be published in 2021 with Michal Raz-Russo, associate curator of photography at the Art Institute of Chicago, serving as editor.

“Gordon Parks’ vision and actions as a photographer, composer, filmmaker, and writer have taught me to fight for humanity, empathy, justice, and integrity in all of my photographs,” Frazier said in a statement.

“His everlasting endurance to unveil the power of visual storytelling on his own terms, in the face of bigotry, violence, and institutional inequality, teach me to create works of art that lift the voice and visibility of the people in ways that triumph over systemic and structural abuse in America.” CT


IMAGE: LaToya Ruby Frazier. | Photo by Steve Benisty


FIND MORE about LaToya Ruby Frazier on her website


Books from LaToya Ruby Frazier include “LaToya Ruby Frazier: The Notion of Family,” “LaToya Ruby Frazier: And from the Coaltips a Tree Will Rise,” and “LaToya Ruby Frazier,” which presents images from her Notion of Family Series along with two other bodies of work portraying families living in steel and coal mining towns. The Gordon Parks Foundation has been collaborating with Steidl since 2010. The Göttingen, Germany-based publisher has produced 11 books documenting the depth and breadth of the Parks archive. The selection includes two volumes of collected works and the latest releases are “Gordon Parks x Muhammad Ali” and “Gordon Parks: The New Tide, Early Work 1940-1950.” “Gordon Parks: The Atmosphere of Crime, 1957” is forthcoming in June. Coinciding with the launch of the new book prize, the partners also announced the opening of the Steidl Library at the foundation in Pleasantville, N.Y. More than 3,000 art and photography volumes, scholarly books, and rare, out-of-print, and limited edition titles published by Steidl are included in the collection. The foundation is one of the few sites in North America to house the Steidl Library, which will open to researchers, by appointment, later this year.


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