Danny Wilcox Frazier / Midwest USA

Documentary photographer and filmmaker Danny Wilcox Frazier focuses his work on marginalized communities both in and outside of the United States. Frazier has photographed people struggling to survive the economic shift that has devastated rural communities throughout America, including in his home state of Iowa. His work acknowledges isolation and neglect while also celebrating perseverance and strength.

With his photographs from Iowa, Frazier documented those individuals continuing to live traditional lives in rural communities across the state, people challenged economically but often unwavering in their conviction to stay. The project was awarded the Center for Documentary Studies/Honickman First Book Prize and was published in 2007. After completing the book (Driftless), Frazier directed and co-produced with MediaStorm a documentary that confronts issues highlighted by his photographs.

Frazier’s photographs have been included in numerous books including: MVP (The Millennium Villages Project), de.Mo design Ltd. November 2016, Detroit: An American Autopsy by Charlie LeDuff with the essay, Evidence Detroit, by Danny Wilcox Frazier, The Penguin Press, February 2013, War Is Only Half The Story, Vol. IV, The Aftermath Project, January 2012, burn.02, burn inc, September 2011, and Land – Country Life in the Urban Age (catalogue), Noorderlicht, October 2010.

Frazier is the recipient of numerous grants and fellowships including: Aaron Siskind Foundation, Individual Photographer’s Fellowship (2016), Emergency Fund, Magnum Foundation (2016), The Aftermath Project (2009), Humanities Iowa, an affiliate of the NEH (2009), W. Eugene Smith Grant finalist (2007 and 2008), and the Stanley Fellowship for Graduate Research Abroad (2003). His photographs are in public and private collections, including: The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Philadelphia Museum of Art, George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film, Duke University’s special collections library, Honickman Foundation, and Smithsonian, National Museum of American History.

Badlands
Caption: Watching the wild horse race, youth rodeo, Oglala, Pine Ridge Reservation. Lakota traditions as well as Western culture are strong throughout the reservation.Story Summary: The Badlands of South Dakota are surrounded by one of the most economically depressed regions in the United States. While economic and social strife are commonplace in the Badlands, this is also a section of the country rich with culture and traditional life. Much of the Badlands are part of the Pine Ridge Reservation, home of the Oglala Lakota, a tribe once led by the legendary war chief Crazy Horse. Pine Ridge is also where some 300 men, women, and children were slaughtered by the U.S. 7th Calvary at the Massacre of Wounded Knee in 1890, the tragic end to the Indian Wars.
Syrian Refugees
Ghazwa Aljabooli and her friend, Mumena El Ali, ride the bus while on their way to their Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) ESL class.Ghazwa Aljabooli and her husband, Abdul Fattah Tameem, are refugees from Syria who were placed in Des Moines, Iowa with their five children. The family's hometown of Homs has seen some of the most fierce fighting and destruction of the civil war in Syria. For two years the family fled fighting within Syria before making it to Jordan, where they began the long process of of getting refugee status in the United States. From Jordan, Aljabooli and Tameem and their children were flown to Iowa to start a new life in middle America. While the transition has not been easy Tameem says, "the only positive thing is my kids are safe, this is essential."Iowa's Republican Governor, Terry Branstad, has apposed Syrian refugees being placed in his state. The federal government is in charge of refugee settlement though, and the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, a nonprofit that contracts with the U.S. Department of State, settled the Tameem family in Des Moines.
dwf_004
(Left and Right) Delegates on the floor of the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio.LOCKDOWN: The Republican National Convention transformed downtown Cleveland into a maze of steel and concrete barriers constructed to protect Quicken Loans Arena from assault or protest. Law enforcement on bikes, horseback and in rapid response squads occupied much of the city. Side streets appeared empty and many restaurants and bars were quiet. In places, downtown Cleveland felt void of life, the lockdown scaring all but the most faithful away.Inside the convention the Jumbotron projected a vision of strength and unapologetic aggression. Speech after speech worked to reinforce the need for order and security. With domestic attacks in Dallas, Orlando and San Bernardino on many people’s minds, the message seemed universally accepted. The alliance between a billionaire businessman and Republicans was locked in, even if the party establishment was cold to the relationship. The celebration continued and the empty streets waited outside…
Iowa Caucuses
Iowa Caucuses for M le magazine du Monde. Trump and Sanders campaign in Iowa.
Marshall Missouri
A cowboy at La Esquina, The Corner Lounge, on Friday night in downtown Marshall, Missouri.
Republican National Convention
Celebrations after Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio.LOCKDOWN: The Republican National Convention transformed downtown Cleveland into a maze of steel and concrete barriers constructed to protect Quicken Loans Arena from assault or protest. Law enforcement on bikes, horseback and in rapid response squads occupied much of the city. Side streets appeared empty and many restaurants and bars were quiet. In places, downtown Cleveland felt void of life, the lockdown scaring all but the most faithful away.Inside the convention the Jumbotron projected a vision of strength and unapologetic aggression. Speech after speech worked to reinforce the need for order and security. With domestic attacks in Dallas, Orlando and San Bernardino on many people’s minds, the message seemed universally accepted. The alliance between a billionaire businessman and Republicans was locked in, even if the party establishment was cold to the relationship. The celebration continued and the empty streets waited outside…
Iowa Caucuses
Waiting for the arrival of Bernie Sanders for campaign stop in Fairfield, Iowa on January 28, 2016.Summary: The Democratic nomination seemed locked up for Hillary Clinton just a few months ago. In the final days leading up to the Iowa caucuses, both Clinton and Bernie Sanders turned their campaigns up to frenzy mode thanks to a tight race between the former Secretary of State and Vermont Senator in the state that leads off the presidential race. Sanders grassroots campaign and progressive positions have created a dedicated following while Clinton looks to regain her dominance with a strong finish in Iowa.
Bury Me Not On The Lone Prairie
Sadie with deer head, Iowa City, Iowa.
dwf_011
Scene near the location where Bill Sparkman's body was found in Daniel Boone National Forest, eastern Kentucky.
VII Portfolio, Danny Wilcox Frazier
Iowa State Fair, Des Moines, Iowa.
The Republicans
Texas Senator Ted Cruz makes a campaign stop in Osage, Iowa. As the year closes out and the first contest in the 2016 presidential race draws nearer, many candidates campaigned across Iowa drawing large crowds of voters and press. On February 1st Iowans will attend caucuses across the state and begin the process of narrowing down the field of presidential candidates. Over the next month Iowa will be the scene of frenzied politicking as the many campaigns rush to gain enough support to continue on to New Hampshire’s primary on February 9th.
MVP - Potou
Millenium Villages Project - Potou
MVP - Potou
Millenium Villages Project - Potou
MVP - Potou
Millenium Villages Project - Potou
Iowa Caucuses
Thousands of Bernie Sanders supporters wait for a campaign rally to start in the Field House of the University of Iowa on January 30, 2016. Several musical guests, including Vampire Weekend, performed and Dr. Cornel West spoke before the Vermont Senator took the stage.Summary: The Democratic nomination seemed locked up for Hillary Clinton just a few months ago. In the final days leading up to the Iowa caucuses, both Clinton and Bernie Sanders turned their campaigns up to frenzy mode thanks to a tight race between the former Secretary of State and Vermont Senator in the state that leads off the presidential race. Sanders grassroots campaign and progressive positions have created a dedicated following while Clinton looks to regain her dominance with a strong finish in Iowa.
dwf_019
Karla Sanchez celebrates her quinceañera in Beardstown, Illinois. Much of the community turned out for the celebration filling the hall the family rented. (2013)Beardstown is a multicultural community in Middle America in part because of a slaughterhouse in the town. Hispanics, Africans, and immigrants from around the world have built a strong local economy and created population growth. Services at St. Alexius catholic church are full while many small town across the region cannot fill pews.
Badlands
Caption: Father and daughter, Allen, Pine Ridge Reservation. Allen has been called the poorest town in America and is part of the Pine Ridge Reservation. Over 90 percent of Pine Ridge residents live below the federal poverty line, and the unemployment rate hovers between 85 and 90 percent.Story Summary: The Badlands of South Dakota are surrounded by one of the most economically depressed regions in the United States. While economic and social strife are commonplace in the Badlands, this is also a section of the country rich with culture and traditional life. Much of the Badlands are part of the Pine Ridge Reservation, home of the Oglala Lakota, a tribe once led by the legendary war chief Crazy Horse. Pine Ridge is also where some 300 men, women, and children were slaughtered by the U.S. 7th Calvary at the Massacre of Wounded Knee in 1890, the tragic end to the Indian Wars.Conditions on the Pine Ridge Reservation are equal to the most impoverished nations in the world. Over 90 percent of Pine Ridge residents live below the federal poverty line, and the unemployment rate hovers between 85 and 90 percent. Life expectancy is 48 years for men and 52 for woman. Though faced with staggering poverty, many Lakotas work to preserve traditional culture and maintain their community.Lakotas are not the only people who struggle economically in the region today. Small towns across the Badlands have suffered greatly as an economic shift in America has bankrupted and depopulated many rural communities. Broken-down ranches litter the landscape, while leather-faced cowboys seemingly as old as the soil itself pass in sun-faded pickups. Many ranchers in South Dakota are descendants of the land-hungry settlers who pressured the U.S. government to take Lakota territory and confine the Sioux to reservations. Now both Indians and whites are living in isolation in the Badlands, forgotten communities left to survive if they can.
VII Portfolio, Danny Wilcox Frazier
Rural scene, Clay County, eastern Kentucky.
Pine Ridge Reservation
Pine Ridge Reservation
Bury Me Not On The Lone Prairie
.50 cal. (machine gun shoot), Badlands, South Dakota.
Bury Me Not On The Lone Prairie
Bison, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota. Plains Indians depended on buffalo for food, shelter, and spiritual guidance before the great herds, estimated between 30 and 200 million animals, were exterminated with the support of the U.S. government in the 1800s. Military leaders expressed their desire to eradicate the buffalo to deny Indians of their own source of food.
Death in Detroit
Packard Motor Car Company plant, Detroit, Michigan.Detroit (for decades this nation’s symbol of economic might) is now ‘the’ example of America’s social failure. Once the auto capital of the world, Detroit has been crumbling for decades. Abandoned plants litter the city, monuments to lost manufacturing and prosperous times long past. Today, Detroit is America’s poorest large city. To avoid being the nation’s perpetual murder capital, the police began cooking stats. In 2008, they claimed 306 homicides – until reporter Charlie LeDuff discovered there were actually 375. Detroit’s east side is now the poorest, most violent quarter of America’s poorest, most violent big city. The illiteracy, child poverty, and unemployment rates hover around 50 percent. The shooting death of seven-year-old Aiyana Mo’nay Stanley-Jones by police on Detroit’s east side brought national attention to his quarter. As the spotlight faded, the killings continued, a reality that plays out with far too much familiarity on the forgotten streets of Detroit.
Death in Detroit
God + War, Detroit, Michigan.Detroit (for decades this nation’s symbol of economic might) is now ‘the’ example of America’s social failure. Once the auto capital of the world, Detroit has been crumbling for decades. Abandoned plants litter the city, monuments to lost manufacturing and prosperous times long past. Today, Detroit is America’s poorest large city. To avoid being the nation’s perpetual murder capital, the police began cooking stats. In 2008, they claimed 306 homicides – until reporter Charlie LeDuff discovered there were actually 375. Detroit’s east side is now the poorest, most violent quarter of America’s poorest, most violent big city. The illiteracy, child poverty, and unemployment rates hover around 50 percent. The shooting death of seven-year-old Aiyana Mo’nay Stanley-Jones by police on Detroit’s east side brought national attention to his quarter. As the spotlight faded, the killings continued, a reality that plays out with far too much familiarity on the forgotten streets of Detroit.
dwf_030
Summer Mills looks through her grandmother’s front window at the cold, hard winter outside. Summer’s parents, Andre Mills and Zaniyan Little, live with 12 members of their family in a run-down two-story house outside the town of Porcupine, South Dakota on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
Bury Me Not On The Lone Prairie
Willow performs at the World Famous Astro Lounge, a strip club in the oil fields of Wyoming. Well payed oil workers fill bars and clubs after long hours of hard labor in the oil fields.
Death in Detroit
Praying during the sermon of Pastor Wilma Johnson at New Prospect Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan.Detroit (for decades this nation’s symbol of economic might) is now ‘the’ example of America’s social failure. Once the auto capital of the world, Detroit has been crumbling for decades. Abandoned plants litter the city, monuments to lost manufacturing and prosperous times long past. Today, Detroit is America’s poorest large city. To avoid being the nation’s perpetual murder capital, the police began cooking stats. In 2008, they claimed 306 homicides – until reporter Charlie LeDuff discovered there were actually 375. Detroit’s east side is now the poorest, most violent quarter of America’s poorest, most violent big city. The illiteracy, child poverty, and unemployment rates hover around 50 percent. The shooting death of seven-year-old Aiyana Mo’nay Stanley-Jones by police on Detroit’s east side brought national attention to his quarter. As the spotlight faded, the killings continued, a reality that plays out with far too much familiarity on the forgotten streets of Detroit.
dwf_033
Family and friends view the body of Chaise Sherrors, 17, who was shot and killed on Detroit's East Side just weeks after his good friend Je’Rean Nobles was shot to death in the same area. Nobles' killing lead to the accidental shooting death of seven-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones by police. Sherrors’ mother, Britta McNeal lost her 14-year-old son a year earlier, also shot. Detroit's East Side is the poorest, most violent part of the nation’s poorest, most violent big city. Chaise Sherrors was shot while giving a haircut on a porch.
dwf_037
Wild horse races at the Oglala Lakota Nation Pow Wow, Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota. Lakota celebrate traditional life throughout late summer with Sun Dances and horse races across the reservation. Pine Ridge sits in the poorest region of America, but is a section of the country rich with culture and traditional life.
Till Death Do Us Part
Cox's family farmhouse (abandoned), near Hamlet, Hayes County, Nebraska. Hayes County has lost 73% of its population since 1930. (2016)
Snowstorm, Iowa City, Iowa.
Snowstorm, Iowa City, Iowa.
dwf_043
Hunting deer on the Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota. The fight for generations of Lakota continues today as the Great Sioux Nation continues legal action for the return of Paha Sapa, the Lakota's sacred Black Hills.