The artist’s book, A Guide to Modern Camp Homes: 10 New Models & Plans for Persons of Japanese Ancestry is inspired by The Book of Modern Homes (1940), published by Sears, Roebuck and Company (right). The company’s home catalogs, produced from 1908-1940, featured model designs with names like "The Cape Cod" and "The Nantucket" and included upbeat descriptions and illustrations of house features.
I’m interested in addressing the ideals of the American home that existed for Japanese Americans prior to the country’s involvement in World War ll. Prior to their removal to inland camps of incarceration, housing for West Coast Japanese Americans would have varied widely, from urban apartments to rural farmhouses. My own family lived in a large, two-story home in Tacoma, Washington.
Through the use of newly commissioned architectural drawings and photographs from both the Library of Congress and the National Archives, I’ve created a fictional but factual publication that addresses the living conditions encountered by the displaced Japanese Americans. The tone and language is gathered from both U.S. Government documents and promotional home catalogs, though much of it would be considered euphemistic and inaccurate today. Quotes by those incarcerated and government officials further describe the sparse living conditions and the institutional racism that existed at the time.
Architectural drawings by Libby and Patrick Castro of LP/ws Design Studio. Photographs by Ansel Adams, Clem Albers, Fred Clark, Hikaru Iwasaki, Dorothea Lange, Tom Parker and Francis Stewart. Quotes courtesy of Densho: The Japanese American Literacy Project.