Where the Heart is:
Where the Heart Is/NJ: Portraits from Vernacular American Trailer and Mobile Home Parks, explores typologies of mobile homes and quotidian moments from their outdoor surroundings where the personalities of the unseen occupants are always tellingly and often proudly on public display.
Throughout the often vibrant neighborhoods of manufactured housing communities (as stigmatized trailer and mobile home parks are being renamed), I’m drawn to capture the narratives revealed within confined areas around homes, where public and private worlds closely intersect. Here the inhabitant’s personality is visible through their ornaments, plantings and colors, often chosen despite limited resources.
These tableaus proudly broadcast their creator’s notions of welcome, of beauty, and of home. They speak of neighborhood and shared community in ways that remind me of where I grew up and are a welcome change from the anonymity of life in the high-rise building where I live today.
These images, so counter to the ingrained stereotyping of the estimated 20 million Americans who live in “trailers”, are informed both by research into the socioeconomics, taste culture, and demographics within the trailer, mobile home and manufactured housing “umbrella”, as well as by conversations and encounters with people along the way.
I began this ongoing project in 2017 with travels, to date, throughout NJ, CA, TX, CO, NY and ME. This selection showcases images about New Jersey with its unique whimsy and fervor.
By giving dignity to a subject that is not often considered positively, this body of work offers insight into our shared humanity.