Sarah M. Lee is a photographer. A longtime contributor to The Guardian and The Observer, her work has also appeared in TIME magazine, Billboard, Rolling Stone, The Sunday Times, and Vanity Fair. She is also a fellow of the British American Project and of the Royal Society of Arts. (February 2020)
Santa Monica, where the wooden pier juts out into the Pacific Ocean, marks the end of Route 66, the mother road for many of those migrating from the eastern states. The great American journey West culminates here, with a Ferris wheel and a candy store, and a branch of the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. It is this short stretch of coast that Sarah Lee began photographing in 2015. Back then, America and the California shoreline seemed to mean something quite different. But as the months unfolded, America’s identity has been reshaped—by an election, by gathering questions about immigration, environment, gender, race, sexual assault, and gun ownership, perhaps even by the meddling of Russia. What the West means has shifted considerably since 1620, too.