Week 11: The New American Dustbowl: Documenting California’s Drought

Matt Black tractor tills dry land near Tulare Lake basin

Matt Black, Tractor tills dry land near Tulare Lake basin, California

Recently we looked at photographs from the era of the Great Depression and the work of FSA photographers such as Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans. The images illustrated how drought and wind storms transformed the Great Plains into the Dust Bowl. For the past several years, California has been experiencing bad drought conditions. Access to water has been drastically cut to California’s Central Valley, a main location of farms that provide Americans with fruit, vegetables and nuts. The documentary photographer Matt Black has documented the lives of farmers and the conditions of modern-day farms. Read a short article from The New Yorker and look through the photographs, then watch a short video that features interviews and Matt Black’s photographs. What do you think of these photographs in comparison to FSA photography? Why do you think so few Americans are aware of drought conditions in California and the impact on our agricultural supply?

Read The New Yorker article “The Dry Land” here

California: Paradise Burning video

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