In her series, Shacks and Legends, Beverly Buchanan takes an anthropological look at the hand-built, single-family structures central to rural African American communities dotted throughout Georgia and the Carolinas. Begun in 1985 and continuing on to the time of her death in 2015, these structures, first made of foamcore, found wood, or corrugated cardboard, echoed the buildings that became familiar to Buchanan as she grew up in South Carolina at the end of the Jim Crow era or while working as a field hand in North Carolina. The Shacks provided portraits, or “emotional groundings,” of people and families the artist came to know and are a celebration of Black Southern Heritage, bringing a marginalized community to the forefront, enhanced by folk art and abstract expressionist traditions. She takes her dialogue a step further in many of her works by attaching text and photography to the Shacks, thus continuing within them the tradition of Legends.
I want to give people who can neither read nor write but made all the measurements and built their own barns and shacks a different way of looking at themselves.