In 2014 Matt Black started travelling across the rural lands of his home state of California creating a portrait of the deep gap between rich and poor, deconstructing the myth of America as a land of opportunity. “I grew up in a small town in the Central Valley: four hours south by car is Los Angeles, four hours north is San Francisco, but there was always the sense of being nowhere,” he says. “It’s hot, dry, agricultural, and poor. It’s California, but not the California that people want to look at or talk about.” 

The work of a photographer is to reveal hidden things

Matt Black
© Matt Black | Magnum Photos

Matt Black is from California’s Central Valley, an agricultural region in the heart of the state. His work has explored the connections between migration, poverty, agriculture, and the environment in his native rural California and in southern Mexico.

He has traveled over 100,000 miles across 46 U.S. states for his project The Geography of Poverty. Other recent works include The Dry Land, about the impact of drought on California’s agricultural communities, and The Monster in the Mountains, about the disappearance of 43 students in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero. Both of these projects, accompanied by short films, were published by The New Yorker.

He received the W. Eugene Smith Award in 2015. In 2016, he received the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award and was named a Senior Fellow at the Emerson Collective. In 2018, he again received a Robert F. Kennedy Award for his work in Puerto Rico. His work has also been honored by the Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund, the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, the Center for Cultural Innovation, and others.

© Matt Black | Magnum Photos

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