Ken Light has embarked on a photographic exploration of a region known for its agricultural plenty—and the marginalization of its people. In Valley of Shadows and Dreams he digs deep into the harsh truths of farm workers’ daily experience in California’s Central Valley, revealing a deep sense of anger and betrayal toward the destructive legacies of politics, bureaucracy, and control.
Light shows us once-viable farmland transformed into neighborhoods full of empty tract homes that no workers can afford. We are confronted head-on with the devastating results of foreclosure. We stand in the Community Center food line in Mendota, we slip magically onto a midnight dance floor with migrant workers in Tulare, and we sail out across the San Joaquin River on a rope swing. These photos capture scenes of hardworking people fighting to preserve their livelihoods and traditions.
KEN LIGHT is a social documentary photographer whose published work includes Coal Hollow, Witness in Our Time, Texas Death Row, Delta Time, To the Promised Land, andWith These Hands. He has exhibited internationally, received numerous grants and awards, and is an adjunct professor at and director of the Center for Photography at the University of California, Berkeley.