Black-and-White Rust Belt

LaToya Ruby Frazier at the Brooklyn Museum is the Daily Pic by Blake Gopnik

The Daily Pic: LaToya Ruby Frazier takes a refined look at a neglected community – her own.

LaToya Ruby Frazier took this photo called “Grandma Ruby and Me" in 2005, when she was barely out of art school, and now it’s in her solo show at the Brooklyn Museum. Frazier documents her family’s troubled existence in the moribund steel town of Braddock, PA. She’s not the first photographer to record difficult lives from the inside, as it were, rather than as a dispassionate observer: Nan Goldin and Richard Billingham came first. But Frazier seems even more implicated in her shots than they were (she’s often her own subject), and, instead of adopting a pseudo-casual snapshot esthetic, she’s completely mastered the craft of traditional black-and-white shooting and printing. That makes her the Ansel Adams of the rust belt.

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