No Gods, No Kings, Only Man

Having been born on the east coast and raised on the west coast, middle America has always seemed like a foreign country to me. When I discovered that the mean population center of the United States, calculated using census data, was only a couple hours drive from my new home in Columbia, Missouri, I felt compelled to visit. These photographs explore what I found when I traveled to Plato, Missouri, a rural town with a population of 109 that happens to sit on top of the mean population center of the United States.

The mean population center is recalculated every ten years with each new census, thus making it both a distinguishing product of the population as well as a seemingly arbitrary spot that may or may not communicate anything interesting about America. Over the last two centuries the mean population center has slowly drifted westward, and as a result could be thought of as a slow-motion replay of manifest destiny.

These photographs are a direct result of a collision between my point of view and what I discovered when I visited Plato, a rural community imbued with a conservative and traditional way of life. This collision forced me to examine how an arbitrary center point embodies both the spirit and realities of America. I chose to focus my camera on nearly momentless, and thus timeless, situations and scenes. My aim with this body of work is to explore both a local and universal understanding of America through the people and landscape of Plato, Missouri.