It is rare for an artist to create such an egoless narrative about the community in which they live.
How did your mother and grand mother feel about being the subject of your art? Are the illnesses highlighted in your work, lupus and cancer, the result of industrial pollutants left over from closed mills? Can you expand on the illness of the town's economy and physical illness of the residents?
LaToya Ruby Frazier
Sherise, the possibilities of what artist can create are endless. The mood, rhythm and tone of an artist's work depends on the message and the intentions the artist wants to convey. I appreciate your compliment.
Since 1872 the Edgar Thomson Plant has released toxins such as; manganese and manganese compounds, nickel and nickel compounds, lead and lead compounds, ammonia, hydrochloric acid, ethylene, zinc compounds, methanol, benzene, cyanide, chromium compounds, tetrachloroethylene, formaldehyde, coke oven emissions, arsenic compounds, carbon tetrachloride and more.
To highlight a few; in 1987, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classified formaldehyde as a probable human carcinogen under conditions of unusually high or prolonged exposure. Studies have shown that it is associated with types of cancer. Tetrachloroethylene, a colorless organic liquid with a mild chloroform-like odor can be found in our drinking water. With many years of exposure it increases risks of cancer. Coke Oven Emissions, Epidemiologic studies of coke oven workers have reported an increase in cancer of the lung, trachea, bronchus, kidney, prostate, and other sites. Benzene, a colorless, flammable liquid is known to cause cancer. Areas of heavy traffic, gas stations, and areas near industrial sources may also have higher air levels with benzene. Occupational exposure that includes asbestos, metals and UV radiation create risk factors for autoimmunity illnesses like Lupus.
Sherise I am pointing out that there are a multitude of risk factors that can cause health problems. When companies are not repeatedly investigated to regulate toxicity levels we become infected. A recent report in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette links air pollution to an increased mortality rate between 2000 and 2008, "Despite federal, state and local regulatory efforts, the region's air still contains high concentrations of fine airborne particles or soot, and ozone, a precursor to unhealthy smog. And most of its population lives in an area that does not meet federal health standards limiting those pollutants."
The way my photographs document environmental degradation, whether it be our bodies or the physical landscape of the town, the work speaks to these endured injuries. My family and I become a springboard to symbolize these greater issues of pollution, environmental negligence, and inequality in healthcare.