Americans at Home
About Lustron Stories
In 2011 I was meeting with The Ohio History Connection (then called the Ohio Historical Society) to discuss and exhibit of my project Every Place I Have Ever Lived - the foreclosure crisis in twelve neighborhoods. They were planning a five year program starting the fall of 2013 which would feature one of these homes (that had been displayed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York) as an exhibit. The story of these homes immediately grabbed me. The Great American Dream had emerged as a subject in earlier work and the times paralleling my own (I was born in 1948 and grew up in home very similar in size to these) was impossible to resist. The project started slowly but as the stories of the folks in these places emerged, they became richer, more universal and more personal.
A remarkable cross section of people lives in these modest (~1100 sq ft) homes. While certainly diverse in age and place in life, the ownership remains firmly working class and, in many cases, shows the economic strains that come with that today.
Everyone who lives in these has something to say about it. The material is miserable to cut or drill into. Magnets are very popular for hanging objects inside and out.
I have spent the last two years photographing the current owners and/or residents in these homes and getting a bit of their stories. This is about them. In the end, great architecture is about the people in the structures. I use my large format wood camera to soften the power imbalance between the subjects and me. The cool (and awkward) equipment goes a long way toward making these strangers comfortable in front of the camera. Over 100 have been done in fifteen states.
Everyone who participated in this project is an important piece of it. It is really difficult to leave people out which you must when you have the limitations of an exhibition or a book. For that reason, I made this video so people could see, albeit briefly, all the generosity that went into Lustron Stories.