I study vernacular architecture because it complements my interest in industrially produced vernacular objects. My scholarship originates in mass-produced tools and furnishings that are embedded in networks of power which are often inseparable from the surrounding space. I am interested in the complex networks of agents who shape the dynamics of race, gender, and class formation through industrial design. The study of vernacular spaces is critical to my understanding of how structural inequality is made concrete in the built environment.
As a design historian interested in the anonymous and overlooked object teaching among designers focused on innovation, I frequently must defend the applicability of my work to colleagues. VAF gives provides an opportunity to share my work with a supportive and engaging community. It is invaluable to have a large and diverse group of knowledgeable like-minded folk critique my ideas and investigations.
In addition to being a historian and educator, I am a designer and artist drawn to cultural landscapes of industry. There are few organizations where I could spend the morning touring a working industrial saw mill with two dozen friends as we did at the Philadelphia conference, and then the afternoon touring the inside and outside of worker housing, churches, and burial grounds of the surrounding community. That day, my phone was lit up by a continual stream of text messages sent between myself and friends alerting one another of sites not to be missed because they pertained to our interests. No one thought it strange as I crawled around on my hands and knees underneath the mechanical seats of a church looking for clues to their history.
I am honored to be part of the VAF community, to contribute to the body of scholarship the organization has created, and to bring my administrative and educational skills to the work of the board.