Visual artist LaToya Ruby Frazier spent nine months documenting the workers at the Chevrolet Cruze assembly line in Lordstown both before and after they rolled the final car off the assembly line. More than 60 of those images will be the subject of an exhibition opening Saturday at the Wexner Center for the Arts.

The news being reported on her television upset photographer LaToya Ruby Frazier.

The visual artist's career was one dedicated to being a voice for working-class people across the Rust Belt, so the November 2018 reports that General Motors would close five North American plants in the coming year wasn't something she took lightly.

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The number of jobs affected was astonishing — 14,700 — but all Frazier could think about were the lives behind that figure. About 1,600 of them were at the Chevrolet Cruze assembly line in Lordstown, a small Ohio village located about 15 miles northwest of Youngstown.

“I was deeply concerned for the community, those workers, their families,” said Frazier, 38, a Chicago resident. “There is no way I'm going to idly sit back.”

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After spending a month traveling to automobile trade shows around the Midwest to gather research about the Cruze, Frazier arrived in Lordstown on Feb. 9. The resulting 18-page photo spread in The New York Times Magazine wasn't the end of her connection to the plant; Frazier kept returning to the community for months to photograph the workers both before and after they rolled the final Cruze off the assembly line.

More than 60 of those images will be the subject of an exhibition opening Saturday at the Wexner Center for the Arts. “LaToya Ruby Frazier: The Last Cruze” is a stark examination of the uncertainty that many workers faced when the plant closed — or was “unallocated,” in the parlance of GM officials — last March.

The exhibition — which debuted Sept. 14 at the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago — is configured to evoke an industrial feel.

Wooden framework resembling the overhead conveyors that carried the Cruze along the assembly line will be mounted with Frazier's poignant photos. And the gallery space is painted blue, an homage to GM's logo.

What's special for the Columbus show is that the final Cruze assembled in Lordstown will be on display. With the help of plant workers, Frazier was able to track down the compact car's owner and obtain permission to borrow it.

On the wall behind the vehicle will be an aerial photo that Frazier captured on March 6 from a helicopter showing plant workers gathered in a massive lot packed with hundreds of the white four-door sedans holding a sign indicating the specific "Last Cruze.“ That sign, written on cardboard and including the signatures of numerous workers, will be displayed in the car's open trunk.

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“It's why I'm so proud to have this car here because, for me, this is a work of art,” Frazier said. “Ultimately, this becomes a monument.”

The exhibition is one that Wexner Center officials welcomed into the space, given the region's connection to the automobile industry.

“We are thrilled to be working with LaToya,” said Megan Cavanaugh, chief operating officer at the Wexner Center. “She's really focused on the people and the impact these decisions have had on their lives.”

Frazier has made a name for herself as a class-conscious artist dedicated to giving a voice to blue-collar workers with her camera. After all, their stories are her story.

Born in Braddock, Pennsylvania, a steel-mill town outside of Pittsburgh, Frazier has long supported unions and fought against what she considers to be unseemly corporate practices.

“Even as a child, I've always been curious about workers, the labor, the wear it takes on their bodies and how the companies discard them,” Frazier said. “As an artist, it's important to me to make work that speaks to the plight of workers and the dismantling of their families due to job loss.”

Her 2014 book, “The Notion of Family,” is a personal look at how her hometown's industrial decline impacted her family and community. Frazier also devoted six months to documenting the Flint, Michigan, water crisis and its aftermath in the 2016 photo series “Flint Is Family.”

An associate professor of photography at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, social justice considerations have remained at the forefront of her work.

It's that resume that helped ingratiate her with Lordstown workers when she arrived at the UAW Local 1112 union hall last February.

In a unanimous decision, the union's members voted to allow Frazier to document their lives in the wake of GM's announcement. For Tim O'Hara, who became the local union's president in late July, there was no apprehension in granting Frazier access.

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“We wanted our story to get out there,” said O'Hara, who retired from a 40-year career nearly five months before GM announced the plant's impending closure. “We felt, and we still feel, that GM unjustly shut that plant down when there was still a market for small cars.”

In the aftermath, many of the factory's workers accepted transfers to plants in other parts of the country — including O'Hara's wife, Denise, who now assembles Corvettes in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

It was a difficult and sad decision for Tim O'Hara, 60, to leave his lifelong home, and that's the anguish that exists beyond the numbers that Frazier wants her audience to experience.

“This is about me standing up for people,” she said, “and speaking truth to power against corporate abuse.”