Internationally renowned visual artist LaToya Ruby Frazier will deliver Wofford College’s annual Chapman Lecture in the Humanities at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 3, in the Jerome Johnson Richardson Theatre in the Rosalind Sallenger Richardson Center for the Arts. The talk, “Art as Transformation: Using Photography for Social Change,” is free and open to the public.
Works from Frazier’s 2014 exhibition, “The Notion of Family,” on loan from Spelman College, also will be on display in the lower level of the Richardson Family Art Museum in the Center for the Arts through Saturday, Dec. 4.
Frazier was inspired to create “The Notion of Family,” an award-winning book that chronicles three generations of Frazier women in photographs, when she noted the lack of representation of African Americans in written histories of her hometown of Braddock, Pennsylvania. The book and accompanying exhibition function as a response to “the legacy of racism and economic decline in America’s small towns,” highlighting the ways in which environmental injustice, healthcare inequality, and economic racism hinder black citizens from attaining the “American Dream.”
In the Chapman Lecture, Frazier will discuss her use of photography as a tool to fight injustice – poverty, health care and gender inequality, environmental contamination, racism, and more. Her talk celebrates the transformative power of images, drawing from her book as well as from works of art by Frederick Douglass, August Sander, Julia Margaret Cameron and Langston Hughes. She asserts that “in order to change society – to seed real change and cultural transformation, especially for the marginalized and the forgotten – we must change the picture we have of ourselves and our communities.”
Frazier is an associate professor at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. She previously has held professorial and curatorial positions at the Yale University School of Art, Rutgers University and Syracuse University. Frazier has lectured at numerous academic and cultural institutions, including The International Center of Photography in New York, Columbia University School of the Arts and Tate Modern in London. She holds an MFA in art photography from Syracuse University and has received honorary doctorates from Edinboro University and the Pratt Institute. For her work as an artist, Frazier has received many accolades, including a MacArthur Genius Grant and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She is also a TED Fellow and one of Ebony magazine’s “100 Most Powerful Women of All Time.” Her works in the media of photography, video and performance have been featured in solo and group shows and in permanent collections across the United States and internationally. “The Notion of Family” earned an International Center for Photography Infinity Award in 2015.
Wofford College began offering annual Chapman Lectures in the Humanities in 2015. These lectures are made possible by the continued generous support that the Chapman family of Spartanburg has provided for teaching and scholarship at the college. The program supports two Chapman Professors appointed over a five-year period, providing funding for professional development in both scholarly research and pedagogical innovation. Current Chapman Professors Dr. Karen H. Goodchild, professor and chair of the Department of Art and Art History, and Dr. Clayton J. Whisnant, associate professor of history, collaborate each year to identify and bring to campus noted visiting scholars who give public lectures in the humanities.
The Rosalind Sallenger Richardson Center for the Arts is located on Wofford’s campus at 130 Memorial Drive in Spartanburg. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 1-5 p.m., with extended hours until 9 p.m. Thursday; Sunday-Monday, closed. Additionally, Frazier’s photography will be on view before and after Frazier’s talk on the evening of Oct. 3.