Matt Black: The Geography of Poverty at Anastasia Photo

Image above: © Matt Black, Fence post, Allensworth, CA, 2014 / Courtesy of Anastasia Photo.


What began as an Instagram account in December of 2013 soon earned photographer Matt Black the title of TimeMagazine’s Instagram photographer of the year in 2014.

High-contrast black and white photographs of crumbling fences and crooked mailboxes currently on view at Anastasia Photo until November 1st, 2015, offer a glimpse into the rural communities in Black’s home region of Central Valley, California, which holds some of the nation’s highest rates of hunger and unemployment.


Images above: Left- © Matt Black, Warehouse district, El Paso, TX, 2015, Right- © Matt Black, Burning tires, Corcoran, CA, 2015 / Courtesy of Anastasia Photo.


Though The Geography of Poverty initially began in California, the project expanded when Black embarked on a 3-month-long road trip to communities in which over 20% of residents live below the poverty line. His exhibit at Anastasia Photo, which specializes in photojournalism, focuses on communities in California, Mexico, and Texas.


Image above: During the opening at Anastasia Photo © Paula Rey Jimenez.


It’s easy to think of the members of these communities as merely silhouettes, like the shadowed outline of a girl in Black’s Farmwork Camp, never attaching a name, a life, or even a face to them. The Geography of Poverty forces its viewers to see the humanity behind the struggles that stain the lives of people who live in a country that is so commonly known for its overwhelming opportunities. Like the looming lines of birds in Birds, taken in Tulare, CA, hardship hovers over the heads of these individuals, and the American Dream hangs limp like the American flag pictured in Black’s Flea Market.


Image above: During the opening at Anastasia Photo © Paula Rey Jimenez.


The exhibit also features stark portraits which focus on the inequality in communities of people of color. Black’s series helps to bring attention to those who are so often forgotten in the US and brings the faces of these individuals—much like his stunning spotlight portraits—out of the shadows and into the light.


Image above: During the opening at Anastasia Photo © Paula Rey Jimenez.


Matt Black’s work focuses on environmental issues, poverty, and migration. His work has appeared in The New Yorker and Orion Magazine. He is the winner of the Robert F. Kennedy Award for Excellence in Journalism, The World Press Photo Award, and the W. Eugene Smith Grant.

by  Stephanie Kotsikonas

The Geography of Poverty is on view through October 31 at Anastasia Photo.

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