“On The Making of Steel Genesis, Sandra Gould Ford” is the evocative, thought-provoking and beautiful collaborative creation of photo-essayist, MacArthur and Guggenheim Fellow LaToya Ruby Frazier and author, artist, educator Sandra Gould Ford.
Steel Genesis represents a recent photographic movement toward subjective documentary storytelling. The combined use of first-person narrative text, poetry, historical artifacts, and photographic imagery representing Sandra Gould Ford’s first-hand experiences at the Jones and Laughlin Steel Company allows for a complex delivery of a story through varying narrator’s voices and stylistic conventions. This is increasingly complicated by the portraits of our primary narrator (Ford) by photographer LaToya Ruby Frazier. This combination strategy allows for a viewer to engage with material from both “insider” and “outsider” perspectives in the space of the same exhibition, and ultimately contemplate how their understanding of a story may be affected by different, but complementary narrative sources.– Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design
Frazier’s portraits of Ford give the sprawling show its center. Once she began photographing Ford, Frazier told me, “it was difficult for me to stop.” “We were inseparable. I’d arrive at her house in Homewood, PA around 10 am and spend the entire day until 10pm or 11 pm.” Through Frazier’s lens, Ford is conveyed as a woman full of grace, humor, and memory. She smiles, but just barely, cradling a hard hat in her home office, her jacket emblazoned with a Jones & Laughlin insignia. From a distance, Frazier finds Ford sitting on the bank of the Monongahela River, a body of water that had been corrupted by the once-blasting furnaces and mines. In another, Ford takes a photograph of electric meters near the Edgar Thomson Steel Works in Braddock.* Frazier’s deferential vantage point gives the impression that she is following Ford, physically and spiritually. Theirs is not the conventional dynamic of artist and muse; both photographer and subject are black women at work. The New Yorker
Exhibitions and presentations can be arranged with: