For AMERICAN GEOGRAPHY, Matt Black travelled over 100,000 miles, through 46 states, finding on these trips that he could cross the country without ever crossing above the poverty line. Visiting communities with a poverty rate above 20 percent, each two hours or less away from each other, he created an alternate map of the U.S. exposing its deep and prevalent inequalities. The difference in life expectancy between the richest and poorest areas of America is 20 years, and millions live with bad water, bad air, bad food, and without access to health care, work, or pensions. What began as a story of individual, isolated communities grew into a portrait of an increasingly divided and unequal America, created during a time of rising disparity and disunion.
Southern farm towns, Texas’ borders with Mexico, and the post-industrial towns of the Midwest are some of the regions depicted in this ambitious body of work. Through striking black and white images, significant socio-political issues are elevated to a national conversation, challenging viewers to ask where America might go from here.
Matt Black has received numerous awards, including the W. Eugene Smith Award (2015), the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award (2016) and most recently in 2018 for his work in Puerto Rico. He has received other awards from the Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund, the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, and the Center for Cultural Innovation.