LaToya Ruby Frazier, Huxtables, Mom, and Me, from the series The Notion of Family, 2008. Gelatin silver print, 16 × 20 inches (40.6 × 50.8 cm). Anonymous promised gift. Courtesy the artist and Michel Rein, Paris/Brussels. © LaToya Ruby Frazier
Through photography, video, and performance, LaToya Ruby Frazier addresses a wide range of topics that concern her—from access to healthcare and the effects of deindustrialization to her family history. Combining social documentary modes with portraiture, Frazier creates penetrating views of everyday life. Over the course of the last decade, her practice has focused on the social, economic, and environmental deterioration of her hometown of Braddock, Pennsylvania, experienced through the concrete and psychological effects on her immediate family.
Huxtables, Mom, and Me is part of a series of portraits featuring the artist and her mother posing in the latter’s house in Braddock. As in another work by the artist in the collection, Mom Making an Image of Me, Frazier here uses mirrors to create frames within frames, generating spatially disorienting compositions that implicitly involve the viewer. Frazier dominates the image, but her mother, wearing military fatigues, is reflected beside her in a mirror propped against the wall: through staging, the two women stand side by side despite their actual confrontation and separation in space. The artist frequently includes African-American cultural references; in this image she wears a T-shirt depicting the actors in The Cosby Show. Through her precise compositions and focus on the individual as well as the family, Frazier visualizes complex relationships with metaphorical implications.
Joining another series by Frazier in the ICA/Boston collection, this work augments the museum’s strong and ever-expanding collection of photography, which includes works by Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Rineke Dijkstra, Roe Ethridge, Ragnar Kjartansson, and Thomas Ruff that likewise explore identity through photographic portraiture.