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Stark photos of California’s devastating drought

A shepherd rests after loading sheep for transport. Firebaugh, California. (©Matt Black)

Stark photos of California’s devastating drought

California is in the midst of its worst drought in more than a century. More than half the state is in “exceptional drought,” the driest conditions possible, according to the United States Drought Monitor. And after three straight years of little rainfall and predictions of a drier than usual winter, there’s no sign of relief.

The pain of the drought has been felt sharpest in California’s Central Valley, long described as the nation’s breadbasket because it provides more than 50 percent of the country’s food supply. Water reservoirs are empty, and wells have run dry. Residents in some tiny towns have no running water at all. Many have likened it to a modern day Dust Bowl, and photographer Matt Black has been documenting it all, producing stark images that are eerily reminiscent of the work produced by actual Dust Bowl photographers, including Dorothea Lange and Arthur Rothstein.

But it’s more than just a photography project. It’s personal. Black, who grew up in Visalia, Calif., the agricultural heart of the Central Valley, has been documenting the land of his childhood slowly waste away, starved of the water that farmers desperately need to keep their crops and livelihoods alive. He’s been focused not just on the land but on the people—the farmers and the workers, both—who are struggling to survive.

His photos of California’s devastating drought, part of an ongoing series called “The Dry Land,” will go on exhibit at 7:30pm on Nov. 11 at The Half King in New York, where Black will also show “California: Paradise Burning,” a short film he produced with photographer Ed Kashi. The exhibit runs until Dec. 13. (Yahoo News)

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