Date of Submission

Fall 2022

Academic Program


Project Advisor 1

An-My Lê

Abstract/Artist's Statement

“Love is as love does. Love is an act of will - namely, both an intention and an action. Will implies choice. We do not have to love. We choose to love.” - M. Scott Peck, as read in All About Love: New Visions by bell hooks

Over the past year and a half, home has been on my mind. I’ve been questioning its definition and location, how it comes to be, what it consists of. I’ve been asking if a definition of home exists.

In this pursuit, I read books about love and communication. I asked strangers how they define home. I made photographs of them in places that felt like home to them. At the time, I didn’t know why I was pursuing home. I couldn’t pinpoint why I was so intent on exploring its complexity. Moving from the midwest to the northeast was enough to generate the question of how I define home, but its sustaining pull and my continued desire to understand what it is baffled me.

The strangers who spoke with me about home talked about broken family relationships, heartbreak, coming home to one’s body, and about the process of breaking cycles inherited sabotage and hurt.. They spoke about sanctuary, about how and when the people around you become your home rather than a place. They openly shared their experiences, joys, and hurts surrounding home. In speaking with them, I felt it was imperative to answer the question myself.

How do I define home? What does home look like to me?

Affection was always present for me in the home space though it existed among generations of emotional repression and familial dysfunction. To show love was to cater to the preset expectations of what a home should look like, not what it truly contained. It was not accepting of queerness or dissent. The first time I was assaulted, it felt that my body was not my own. I found in recovery that my body can be my home. Through my journey and experiences, I now know that a place is not home when unease is a consistent presence. Home is a place where opposing states of emotion coexist - comfort intertwines with a sense of disquietude. The dance between the two is based in love and care. In this balance, the commitment to both existing together is its rich complexity.

Like Peck defining love as an action, I have found that home is a set of actions. The home I want for myself takes repeated intention, action, and consistent effort. It comes into being by identifying what does not feel supportive to personal growth and intimacy. It comes into being by questioning what feels threatening to my well being and removing it if necessary. I create my sense of home by observing things or actions I want surrounding me and acting on them.

In this project, I make photographs of the landscapes around me, my physical residence, and the spaces in which others reside. I realized that my definition of home is shaped through scrutiny, observation, and curiosity. I look at others to observe the ways intimacy appears. They look at myself and my camera. I scrutinize the photographs in the editing process. We are seeing and being seen within different versions and ideas of home.

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