Marking its first show with artist LaToya Ruby Frazier, Gladstone Gallery has installed a body of work by the artist that pays tribute to and commemorates the work of healthcare workers during the course of the Covid-19 Pandemic. Centered around More Than Conquerors: A Monument for Community Health Workers of Baltimore, Maryland (2021-2022), which marks its first installation in New York, the show makes for a fitting reflection on several exceedingly challenging years for the United States and its healthcare workers.
Comprising stainless steel IV poles, archival inkjet prints, and text panels, this installation was created as a celebration of the community health workers (CHWs) of Baltimore, Maryland, and proposes a new approach to monument making in the 21st century. The work, which was first conceived of after the artist faced a series of medical injustices, including difficulty obtaining a Covid-19 vaccine, takes community health workers as the centerpiece of the work. Frazier transcribed, edited, printed, mounted, framed, designed and fabricated this immersive monument for workers’ thoughts on behalf of, for, with, and about the role and importance of CHWs in society and their relationships with doctors and faith leaders in their community who strongly advocate for their work and livelihoods. This monument proclaims that community health workers should be seen as a profession, as salaried employees with full healthcare benefits and leave. The monument is comprised of eighteen medical IV poles that are nine feet tall and social-distance-spaced. The audience is welcome to walk among them to embody the social distance we’ve come to know so well, to contemplate and reflect on each testimony and portrait face-to-face, and to have a moment of silence in order to mourn the loss of loved ones to COVID-19.
Through the close relationships the artist formed with the CHWs, doctors, and faith leader that were part of this significant undertaking, More Than Conquerors: A Monument for Community Health Workers of Baltimore, Maryland (2021-2022) uproots the notion of what a monument can look like, who it serves, and what it celebrates in order to bring us closer to a more equitable and just society.
The show closes April 15th.
– D. Creahan
Gladstone Gallery [Exhibition Site]