Flint Is Family In Three Acts is a multi-part exhibition by renowned artist LaToya Ruby Frazier that is on exhibition now in Flint and Ann Arbor through Dec 30. For five years, Frazier researched and collaborated with two poets, activists, mothers and residents of Flint, Michigan, Shea Cobb and Amber Hasan, as they endured one of the most devastating ecological crises in U.S. history.
Frazier first traveled to Flint in 2016, as part of a magazine commission to create a photo essay about the water crisis. During that trip she met Shea Cobb, a Flint poet, activist and mother who became Frazier’s collaborator in what would evolve into a five-year body of work. Divided into three acts, Flint is Family follows Cobb as she fights for her family’s and community’s health and wellbeing.
Resulting in an astonishing collection of photographs, video, and texts Frazier curated and developed into what is now, Flint Is Family In Three Acts (2016−2021). With the mission to advocate for access to clean and safe drinking water for all regardless of race, religion and economic status, the exhibit serves as a wake up call.
The collection records stories of surviving and thriving, especially within Black neighborhoods in Flint, to ensure that they remained visible in national debates concerning environmental justice. Drawing inspiration from the urgency in Frazier’s work, which also sheds light on building equitable and inclusive futures, Stamps Gallery, part of the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design at the University of Michigan, initiated a partnership with the Flint Institute of Arts and the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University to bring this important exhibition together for the first time in Michigan.
The photographer’s goal is to offer a creative yet instructive platform that reaches broader audiences beyond Michigan — Flint is Family: Act I (2016−2017) will take place at the Flint Institute of Arts, 1120 East Kearsley Street | Flint, Michigan and Act II (2017−2019) at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, and Act III (2019) at Stamps Gallery, 201 S Division St, Ann Arbor.
The exhibition served as a catalyst to bring three disparate institutions together to deepen our understanding of individual and institutional agency in advocating for equity, transparency and environmental justice in our respective communities, while also highlighting the role of the artist as an agent for enacting positive social change.
Flint Is Family In Three Acts is curated by Srimoyee Mitra, Tracee Glab, and Steven L. Bridges with the assistance of Jennifer Junkermeier-Khan, Rachel Winter, and Rachael Holstege. The exhibit was organized by Stamps Gallery in partnership with the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, Michigan State University, and the Flint Institute of Arts.