Spina Americana (American Spine)

Richard Sharum

2021 - Ongoing

Between 2016-2019 I documented some of the most isolated regions of Cuba in search of the national character. That was subsequently published as my debut monograph Campesino Cuba in 2021 (GOST). I decided for my next long-term project to turn my gaze upon my own country, in parts unknown to myself and most Americans, at a time of national division and political strife not seen here since the 1850’s. This project is titled Spina Americana (American Spine).

Spina Americana (American Spine) attempts at understanding a critical and often misunderstood section of the U.S: A central spine of land, including the millions of diverse people who reside, work, live, and die in this corridor between Mexico and Canada.

Of all the projects to have taken place as an examination of the United States, including epic documentations such as Richard Avedon’s American West, Robert Frank’s Americans, and most recently, Matt Black’s Geography of Poverty, none have thoroughly explored a strict confine of the Central U.S. and the people/cultures who occupy it.

Commonly derided as "flyover country", it is rife with a complex history going back before our founding, and continues to have vast implications on our food and natural resource output as a nation.

I have carved out a 100 mile-wide path of land, 50 miles east/west of the geographic center (near Lebanon, Kansas). It runs vertically from Mexico to Canada, traversing the “spine” of the United States, as it has not been examined before:

An independent and unique feature of our nation, whose fate depends and has a direct effect on the future of this country.

This project has been underway since January of 2021 and will likely continue for the next 2-3 years.

I aim to take a cross-section of the United States as it currently stands, from the Colonias on the U.S.-Mexico border, to the Native American reservations in Oklahoma, Kansas and the Dakotas, up to the oil-rich terrain at the U.S.-Canada border, and most of what is in between, including agricultural and natural resource industries. I want to see the backbone of America- what feeds it and what powers it.

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  • A woman stands next to the flag pole in her front yard. Wichita Falls, Texas. 07.28.2021

  • Welch Farm. Macksville, Kansas. 06.16.2021

  • House Swallowed By Tree. McCulley, Nebraska. 12.14.2021

  • Birth of a Colt. Stephenville, Texas. 03.03.2021

  • Migrant Worker With Cabbage and Tool. Pearsall, Texas. 03.24.2021

  • Highschool Baseball Players After Practice. Tolar, Texas. 03.03.2021

  • Mennonite Church. Arlington, Kansas. 06.20.2021

  • Erotic Dancer. Wichita Falls, Texas. 07.27.2021

  • Ballerina School. Valley City, North Dakota. 10.20.2021

  • Corn Field. Pearsall, Texas. 03.24.2021

  • Roadside Cross. Outside of Belpre, Kansas. 06.18.2021

  • Barbershop. Castroville, Texas. 03.23.2021

  • Mennonite Farm. Partridge, Kansas. 06.20.2021

  • Outside of Niobrara, Nebraska. 12.18.2021

  • Welch Farm Sisters. Macksville, Kansas. 06.16.2021

  • Bowling Alley. O'Neill, Nebraska. 12.16.2021

  • Mennonite Sisters at their Farm. Partridge, Kansas. 06.20.2021

  • Flag Tree. Niobrara, Nebraska. 12.18.2021