The American West is famous for being wild, even though its rural areas have been settled for generations. The regions I photographed between are some of the least populated in the United States. In rural Nevada, there are still twice as many cows as there are people. While the ranchers I met were struggling to survive the economic recession and years of drought, almost anyone could get a job at the mines. Coal, oil, natural gas, and gold were booming. Ranching and mining in the American West have had parallel histories and a common landscape. Cowboys and ranching culture are the chosen representatives of the region. Men on horseback ride through countless movies.
Their images are printed on license plates and tourist souvenirs. But, the biggest profits are in mining. Though miners haven’t found any raw nuggets for generations, the American West remains one of the largest gold producing regions in the world. Companies are digging increasingly bigger holes to find smaller deposits, leaving pits where there once were mountains. When I first visited, I expected cowboys to be nomads, herding animals on the edge of wilderness. I quickly learned that most ranchers have homes with mortgages. I also learned that all mines close eventually. When a mine closes, the land is scarred. The company leaves and people have to move. Miners are the modern-day nomads, following jobs across the country.
“This is how I remember New York City in 2002. I was 19 years old and had just moved to Manhattan from my family’s small farm on Long Island. It was the first summer after the September 11 attacks. Workers were removing the last of the debris from the collapsed Twin Towers. The city felt both immense and fragile compared to the groundedness of my childhood home.”
“On weekdays, I worked in Arnold Newman’s photography studio. After hours and on weekends, I walked through the city’s five boroughs with my camera. When someone made eye contact with me, I asked if I could make a portrait of them. At first, I assumed people would respond with caution. I was a stranger. The city was recovering from an event that shook its sense of security. Yet, most people said yes and looked straight into my camera lens. I am grateful they chose to trust me.” - Lucas Foglia
Published on the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, Lucas Foglia’s portraits show the tremendous diversity of New York City. Everyone is portrayed with dignity, regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, or ethnicity. Today, as the world begins to heal from the coronavirus pandemic, the photographs remind us to approach strangers with compassion, across social distances.