In this edition of American Women, we celebrate communities and individuals whose lives have been defined by, and are in some ways analogous to, the vast beauty and ferocity of the Pacific Ocean near which they reside. We have set our gaze on the western states because so much of the peril and promise of our times has of late been felt most acutely there; the West is a microcosm of this moment . . . in all its horror, glamour, politics and transcendent purpose. For example, Rebecca Bengal and Justine Kurland traveled to Northern California to ask the residents displaced by fire about their new year in Paradise. Abby Aguirre and Alex Webb went to the border of Arizona and Mexico to meet both the Americans who daily risk imprisonment to deliver clean water to primarily women and children on the move in the brush, and the families of migrants seeking asylum here. Bridget Read and?Katsu Naito documented the descendants of the Japanese-American internees of the Second World War, then and now primarily farmers in California’s Central Valley; theirs is a dark yet relevant perspective on the enduring scars of unjust internment.
In the portfolios, there is lightness, innovation and beauty as well. Mackenzie Wagoner cut loose with the diverse and dazzling ladies of Los Angeles’ legendary Millennium Dance studio; Brooke Bobb and Gillian Laub provide an oral history of The Hills, the original series and the MTV reboot. You’ll meet longboarders and Iditarod stars, Las Vegas brides on Valentine’s Day, and the leading researchers in artificial intelligence. The photos and videos, brilliantly overseen by Emily Rosser, Vogue’s visual director are unvarnished, astonishing, timeless yet urgent. This is the whole wide world right now, looked at through the prism of ten extraordinary groups of women, on the verso coast of this should-be-great, can-do-better country. It’s our job to watch and listen.