By Laura Onyeneho
Houston-based documentary and lifestyle photographer April Frazier presents her latest project, Frame of Reference Installation, at the Houston Museum of African American Culture (HMAAC) through March 5.
Frame of Reference takes viewers on a photographic journey of Frazier’s memories and experiences from her family history. The installation honors the foundation and growth of Black families’ accomplishments and survival. She includes 16 portraits from Black Chronicles on loan from Autograph, a London-based photographic art institution to correspond with images from her installation showing the universal power, beauty, and dignity of Black people worldwide.
“I came from a very large family. My dad had 10 siblings, and my mom had three. During family gatherings, I enjoyed learning about my relatives’ upbringing. They always had photographs and I would take notes,” said Frazier. “I didn’t start researching until I was about 23. I began looking into documents and census records and recording the factual evidence of our existence and involuntary migration from Africa to the U.S.”
Frazier said it took nearly 10 years to create Frame of Reference. The photographs date as far back as 1890 to present day. The photographs contribute to an “ongoing process of redressing structural absence within the historical record,” according to HMAAC.
“This is a pictorial display of my roots. Whether it’s the knowledge of assets, the land we had in the family, what generation was the first to attend college,” Frazier said. “The depiction of African Americans in the books I’ve read were negative, stating the worthless of Black people after enslavement and that their votes could be bought with a pint of beer. Frame of Reference refutes that. I know a different story and I have evidence that I want to share with the world.”
HMAAC CEO John Guess Jr. said, “We see Frazier’s installation as helping HMAAC to drive home to local individuals and institutions, particularly in neighborhoods of color, the need to see our communities as places worthy of having family histories, and by extension, the need to document neighborhood communities. This is of great interest to HMAAC.”
Frame of Reference will be on display throughout Black History Month and Frazier said the goal for the installation is to “encourage people to take pride and invest time into learning about their own history and identity.” For more information visit hmaac.org.
Laura Onyeneho covers the city’s education system as it relates to Black children for the Defender Network as a Report For America Corps member. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org