As the General Motors plant in Lordstown, Ohio halted production and faced possible closure, displacing its workers, artist LaToya Ruby Frazier joined with these workers, their families, and their local union leaders to tell the story of the plant in its final days. After more than fifty years of automobile production and a commitment to manufacture the Chevrolet Cruze until 2021, the facility was recently “unallocated” by GM, as the company shifts its focus toward overseas manufacturing and the production of electric and autonomous vehicles. For many, this meant uprooting their families and giving up the support of a close-knit community. Those who turned down transfers to GM plants in other states lost their income, pensions, and benefits.
The Last Cruze, which sets out to amplify the voices of the auto workers in Lordstown, introduces a new chapter to Frazier’s work in investigating labor, family, community, and the working class. Exhibited at the Renaissance Society in 2019, this body of work includes over sixty photographs, alongside the written stories of the workers, and was staged within an installation that echoes the structure of the plant’s assembly line. This substantial catalogue includes extensive documentation of the work and introduces new essays and dialogues by contributors including Coco Fusco, David Harvey, Werner Lange, Lynn Nottage, Julia Reichert, Benjamin Young, and members of the local chapter of the United Auto Workers.
About the Author
LaToya Ruby Frazier is a visual artist and associate professor of photography at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. A MacArthur Grant winner, she is known for collaborative storytelling with the people who appear in her photographs, videos, texts, interviews, and performances.
Karsten Lund is curator at the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago.
Solveig Øvstebø was executive director and chief curator of the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago from 2013-2020.