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Visual artist LaToya Ruby Frazier turns her camera toward Lordstown, Ohio, and the workers of its General Motors plant in The Last Cruze, a deeply personal investigation of labor, class, community, and family. After more than 50 years of automobile production and a commitment to manufacture the Chevrolet Cruze until 2021, the facility was officially unallocated by GM and stopped production in March 2019.
Employees in Lordstown have been faced with the difficult decision to transfer to plants in other parts of the country. For many, this means dividing their family or leaving their support networks. As the plant went quiet and the workers’ lives were rerouted or put on hold, the UAW International Union began negotiating their contract with General Motors. During this period of profound uncertainty, Frazier was in Lordstown with the members of UAW Local 1112 and their families, collaborating with them to record their stories.
Presented for the first time in Ohio, The Last Cruze features over 60 photographs and other audiovisual elements—as well as the last automobile from the GM Lordstown Complex itself—in an installation that visually echoes the plant’s floating assembly line. With this latest body of work, Frazier introduces a major new chapter in her ongoing accounts of working-class lives across a wide variety of geographic settings—from her hometown of Braddock, Pennsylvania, to Flint, Michigan, to the Borinage mining region of Belgium.
The developments in Lordstown (located only 150 miles from the Wex) have brought widespread attention to the small Rust Belt community, which has emerged as a political flashpoint and is considered symptomatic of shifting economic trends. Timely and nuanced, The Last Cruze creates a platform for the workers and families directly affected by the plant’s change in status, amplifying their voices as they articulate their own relationships to an urgent subject that connects local, national, and global concerns.
Installation view of LaToya Ruby Frazier: The Last Cruze at the Wexner Center for the Arts
LaToya Ruby Frazier: The Last Cruze was organized by The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago and curated by Karsten Lund and Solveig Øvstebø. It is supported by Mirja and Ted Haffner, The Hartfield Foundation, the David C. & Sarajean Ruttenberg Arts Foundation, Barbara Bluhm-Kaul and Don Kaul, and Mary Frances Budig and John Hass. The Wexner Center’s presentation is coordinated by Senior Curator of Exhibitions Michael Goodson and Chief Operating Officer Megan Cavanaugh.
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LaToya Ruby Frazier: The Last Cruze