Mike Sinclair is a photographer based in Kansas City, Missouri. His personal work explores the subjects of Main Street America, fairgrounds, and popular attractions. There is a vastness captured in many of his city landscapes, the kind only found in the smaller cities that reside in the grey area at the intersection of the South, West, Midwest, and Heartland.
I took an environmental studies class called “Grasslands” once. We spoke a lot about prairies and how they began to define “the West.” As an Upper-Midwestern at an East Coast school, I was alone in my belief that “West” referred only to the areas beyond the Rockies. “Where are you from?” the professor asked. I told her Illinois. “That’s West,” I was informed.
I persisted in my beliefs until I traveled through Missouri via Greyhound. After a layover in St. Louis, I noted that the passengers who traveled forward had a decidedly Western feel: large hats, cowboy boots, and a slow, almost undetectable drawl. They were bound for Kansas, Oklahoma, and the panhandle area, to the places where the quiet prairie begins to give way to dusty earth and hard work.
Maybe those places are the West. Or maybe they exist in a space that hasn’t yet been defined in the geographic imagination of America. It’s a space where cities are open and pervade with a sense of quiet. Where the land leads slowly into opening skies. Where hands work hard and grins are always in earnest.
I am drawn to Mike Sinclair’s work because his photographs probe those areas of the geographic imagination that haven’t quite yet been defined, and in doing so, works toward definition.