Critical Mass Top 50, 2013

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Sam Comen

Jose and Sandy dance in Lost Hills, CA. October 29, 2011.

Birthday barbeque in Lost Hills, CA. March 24, 2013.

Basketball at dusk in Lost Hills, CA. March 7, 2011.

Looking south at dawn in Lost Hills, CA. July 16, 2011.

Patriarch in his kitchen on Christmas Day in Lost Hills, CA. December 25, 2010.

Three generations at work in Lost Hills, CA. March 23, 2013.

Clearing brush in Lost Hills, CA. March 10, 2011.

Cousins and an air rifle on Christmas Eve in Lost Hills, CA. December 24, 2010.

Piñata at a birthday party in Lost Hills, CA. March 23, 2013.

(This image was in CM2010) Jose on Chapulín in Lost Hills, CA. March 28, 2009.
Sam Comen

Lost Hills is a town of 3,500 farm and oilfield workers located at the southern end of California's Central Valley; the same agricultural region where the “Okies” headed in search of work as they fled the dust bowls of the 1930s. Today a new group of migrants, this time Chicanos and Mexicans, again wrings a wage from the Valley’s parched soil. These individuals embody the bootstrapping grit and cooperative frontier spirit of the American West – and are living a new iteration of the “Okie” experience so prominent in our national psyche. But because some of Lost Hills’ residents are undocumented immigrants, all are assumed to be, and so may be cut out of their own American dream, and denied their place in the American historical record. I’m interested in documenting this knife’s edge of inclusion that these people negotiate each day. To highlight it, I transpose the motifs of my magazine portrait work – cross-sourced lighting, saturated color palette, admirative gaze – to this one-stoplight town. I believe the contrast between subject matter and visual approach mirrors the tension I see as inherent to life in Lost Hills.