Baltimore Museum of Art acquires LaToya Ruby Frazier COVID installation

The Baltimore Museum of Art announced on June 26, 2023, that it has acquired LaToya Ruby Frazier’s acclaimed installation More Than Conquerors: A Monument for Community Health Workers of Baltimore, Maryland 2021-2022. Featuring a series of portraits and related narratives mounted on 18 socially distanced, stainless-steel IV poles, the large-scale installation captures and celebrates the essential work of community health workers in Baltimore during the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Powerful and deeply evocative, the LaToya Ruby Frazier COVID installation monumentalizes the Community Health Workers’ efforts and offers an alternative approach to monument-making that challenges us to consider the nature of how and who we honor. More Than Conquerors is being generously gifted to the museum by the Glenstone Museum in Potomac, Maryland. Initially created for the 58th Carnegie International, where it won the Carnegie Prize, and recently presented at Gladstone Gallery in New York, the installation will go on view at the BMA in 2025 as part of a year-long initiative focused on the environment.

More Than Conquerors reflects the distinct quality of LaToya Ruby Frazier’s artistry and her innate ability to encapsulate stories of profound personal and communal meaning. The installation offers a poignant tribute to some of the most important but under-acknowledged heroes of our community, and it is with great pride and gratitude that we are able to share that it will become part of the BMA’s collection,” Asma Naeem, the BMA’s Wagner Wallis Director, said. “We also want to extend our great appreciation to Glenstone co-founders Mitch and Emily Rales for their vision and support in helping us acquire this work for the benefit and enjoyment of our community.”

More Than Conquerors is an outgrowth of Frazier’s long-standing relationship with Dr. Lisa Cooper, Bloomberg Distinguished Professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Bloomberg School of Public Health and Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Equity. The two first connected during a 2015 conversation hosted by The Contemporary and the Baltimore School for the Arts that explored the power of art, science, and medicine to address environmental racism and remained in personal dialogue following the event.

“As with all monuments, the meaning of More Than Conquerors is inseparable from its location,” Emily Wei Rales, Director and co-founder of Glenstone Museum, said. “For this reason, we were inspired to gift this work to the Baltimore Museum of Art so that the community that these workers serve would also be the primary audience for this powerful installation.”

During the pandemic, Frazier was awarded both the National Geographic Storytelling Fellowship (2020-2021) and a commission for the 58th Carnegie International. When she experienced an incident of medical injustice while trying to obtain a COVID-19 vaccination, she was inspired to develop a project that both revealed the depth of healthcare inequity and celebrated those individuals on the frontlines working for change.

Since the 1970s, Community Health Workers (CHWs) have served as an essential resource to underserved communities, helping individuals overcome challenges to healthcare access and providing advocacy in discussions with those working in healthcare systems and state health departments. CHWs played a critical part in the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, sharing information, encouraging acceptance of the treatment, and providing access and support.

Despite their importance within communities in Baltimore and cities across the country, CHWs are among the unsung heroes of the pandemic and the daily efforts necessary to ensure medical justice and healthcare equity. With the support of practitioners and educators at Johns Hopkins University as well as other healthcare advocates, Frazier was able to connect with Tiffany Scott, co-founder and Chair of the Maryland Community Health Worker Association, and a group of CHWs actively involved in vaccination efforts between 2020 and 2021. 

More Than Conquerors reveals their portraits, stories, and voices, creating a poignant monument to their tireless efforts and recognizing their invaluable contributions to the lives of countless people and the health of many communities.

LaToya Ruby Frazier

LaToya Ruby Frazier’s (b. 1982, Braddock, PA) practice engages with social justice movements, cultural change, and the American experience through a wide range of media, including photography, video, performance, installation, and books. She often uses collaborative storytelling that captures the voices and stories of individuals represented in her artworks.

Her prior projects have addressed topics of industrialism, rust belt revitalization, environmental justice, access to healthcare, access to clean water, workers’ rights, the nature of family, and communal history.

Her work has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions at institutions across the U.S. and Europe and her work is held in many public art collections.

Baltimore Museum of Art

Founded in 1914, the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) inspires people of all ages and backgrounds through exhibitions, programs, and collections that tell an expansive story of art—challenging long-held narratives and embracing new voices. Our outstanding collection of more than 97,000 objects spans many eras and cultures and includes the world’s largest public holding of works by Henri Matisse; one of the nation’s finest collections of prints, drawings, and photographs; and a rapidly growing number of works by contemporary artists of diverse backgrounds.

The museum is also distinguished by a neoclassical building designed by American architect John Russell Pope and two beautifully landscaped gardens featuring an array of modern and contemporary sculpture.

The BMA is located three miles north of the Inner Harbor, adjacent to the main campus of Johns Hopkins University, and has a community branch at Lexington Market. General admission is free so that everyone can enjoy the power of art.

Visitor Information

General admission to the BMA is free. The BMA is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with extended hours on Thursdays until 9 p.m. The Sculpture Gardens are open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to dusk. The museum and gardens are closed New Year’s Day, Juneteenth, July 4, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.

The BMA is located at 10 Art Museum Drive, three miles north of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. For general museum information, call 443-573-1700 or visit artbma.org.

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