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Beverly Buchanan

Beverly Buchanan

All in the Family: Improvisational architecture in the work of Beverly Buchanan

“Beverly Buchanan’s artworks are full of humanity, depicting the grace of everyday lives and the power of the human spirit. They remind us of our abiding connections to the places we call home,” writes curator Marianetta Porter of the work of artist Beverly Buchanan.

Buchanan’s work is on display through Feb. 1 at the Department of AfroAmerican and African studies at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

For many African Americans who visited their family in the south, the improvisational sculptures of Beverly Buchanan will stop your heart with remembrance, joy and history. Buchanan seeks to recreate, honor and elevate the shotgun and plantation houses of the south. Her homes show the innovation, creativity, resourcefulness and ingenuity in the everyday life of poor African Americans from the south.

Wood tacked just-so or an extra layer on the roof to protect from the rain. Buchanan’s works echo the architecture of those who “did what they had to do to get by.”

Lucy Lippard writes in the exhibit catalogue about Buchanan’s work as “cultural and economic metaphor.”

Buchanan has said she considers her “shacks portraits.” Like her farther, Buchanan studied the lives and surroundings of Black farmers. Buchanan was born in North Carolina but raised in Orangeburg, S.C., where her father was of the School of Agriculture at South Carolina State College. Buchanan attended Bennett College. She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and twice received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. Her works are found in major museums including the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Whitney Museums of American Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The exhibit is located in Room G648 on the ground floor of Haven Hall. For more information, visit

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