Author: Dennis C. Dickerson;Laura Wexler;Dawoud Bey
Now available in a paperback edition, LaToya Ruby Fraziers award-winning first book, The Notion of Family, offers an incisive exploration of the legacy of racism and economic decline in Americas small towns, as embodied by her hometown of Braddock, Pennsylvania. The work also considers the impact of that decline on the community and on her family, creating a statement both personal and truly politicalan intervention in the histories and narratives of the region. Frazier has compellingly set her story of three generationsher Grandma Ruby, her mother, and herselfagainst larger questions of civic belonging and responsibility. The work documents her own struggles and interactions with family and the expectations of community, and includes the documentation of the demise of Braddocks only hospital, reinforcing the idea that the history of a place is frequently written on the body as well as the landscape. With The Notion of Family, Frazier knowingly acknowledges and expands upon the traditions of classic black-and-white documentary photography, enlisting the participation of her family, and her mother in particular. In the creation of these collaborative works, Frazier reinforces the idea of art and image-making as a transformative act, a means of resetting traditional power dynamics and narrativesboth those of her family and of the community at large.