Abstract: The White House is my father’s colonial-hybrid ancestral house (bahay na bato) in Baliuag, the Philippines. The White House tells a story of a dwelling imbricated within both national and nationless histories.

Home holds a place in our personal identity beyond the architectural bounds of the houses we physically occupy. Contemporary emplacement demands movement, whether through migration, travel, or transcultural exchange. Identity, as positioned by the postcolonial writer Édouard Glissant, is linked fundamentally with change and contact with others, and yet the loss that these forms of movement demand begs the question of what—in the most ancestral depths of our being—still remains. This thesis assembles multiple fragmentary, and at times opaque, individual parts into a hybrid that offers a response to this question.

I position the site of the White House as a counterpoint to national official history and as the subject of multiple forms of exchange. My thesis tells a personal history seen through the alternating lenses of domestic space, public graffiti, and fine art. Through the representational forms of drawing, writing, and digital space—media that I offer in response to the physical house—the architecture and the histories it embodies take on new lives across time and geographic location. The topology of a palimpsest becomes the source of inspiration for a drawing series of the White House, extending the tradition of architectural drawing and culminating with a large-scale canvas panel mounted and installed for public view in Toronto, Canada. Methods of drawing, inscription, hachure, and erasure are used to document and reflect on the physical architecture of the White House. In the process, interactions between the palimpsest’s layers begin to suggest a contemporary framework for thinking about urban history.

Through this thesis, I grieve the physical loss of a house from my memory, and its metaphysical loss in the face of emergent site-less hyperculture. Facing these losses, I freely confront the future holding aspects of deep cultural identity that might still resist change.