The shotgun house is an architectural link between West Africa, Haiti, and the southern United States. It was brought to the United States as people fled the country during and after the Haitian Revolution. Though initially as popular in the U.S. with the middle class as with the poor, the shotgun house became a symbol of poverty in the mid-20th century.
One theory is that shotgun houses were given that name because it was possible to shot a shotgun straight through the house, from the front door to the back as the building was just a row of connected rooms. However, the name's origin may actually reflect an African architectural heritage, perhaps being a corruption of a term such as to-gun, which means "place of assembly" in the Southern DohomeyFon area.
This is a shotgun house in New Orleans in disrepair. Many of the houses built in response to Hurricane Katrina are based on the shotgun form.
Texas artist John Biggers (1924-2001) is known for his use of the shotgun house in his paintings and prints. This image is called “The Four Seasons.”
Many artists have used the format of the shotgun house in their work. This print is by Ryan Connors.
This installation is by artistMarjetcaPotr.
Artist Mel Chin used a shotgun house as the basis for his “Safe House,” part of his efforts to raise money to replace the storm-damaged soil in New Orleans.
One part of his effort is for students to design dollar bills to collect and send to congress.
Haiti House is building and providing what they call “flat pack” homes for Haiti.
Please consider creating and selling "Haiti Houses” and then donate the money to one of the organizations who are providing relief to the earthquake victims.
The "Haiti Houses" project was created by Ann Ayers and Ellen McMillan, Art teachers at Monarch High School Coconut Creek, FL. They suggest that monies raised by donated to Food for the Poor, the American Red Cross, AmeriCares, Mercy Corps, UNICEF, Doctors without Borders, and similar charities.
Another humanitarian effort for Haiti is the Global Crutch Initiative, where students decorate crutches to be donated to people who need them in Haiti. http://www.globalartinitiative.org/projects/crutchproject.html
Here you see a printing plate for a collograph on the left made from old file folders. On the right is a rubbing (frottage) of the same collograph plate. The next step is to print with the plate.
Haiti is also known for its appliqued, sequined, and beaded banners, sometimes called Haitian ritual flags. These represent both positive and negative spirits, called loas, in Haiti. They are used to open the door to the spirit world. Sequins, mirrors, and glass represent seeing beyond the surface of things. Erzulie is the loa or spirit of love.
Metal cut from oil drums is a popular medium for Haitian artists. Metal also connects Haiti to its African roots, for metal is a material sacred in Africa, thought to possess special powers. For example, Gu, the Dahomey deity of iron and war, is the personification of iron’s cutting edge, and Ogoun, one of the most powerful loas or spirits, is the loa of iron.
Artworks often depict Haitian loas or spirits, or creatures that live in the water, including mermaids.
The same symbols often appear on banners, metal work, and in designs made from flour sprinkled on the ground or floor for rituals.
Here is the head of a lion or seahorse with a fish.
Haitian artists sell their work at the International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe every summer. Here you can get a sense of the scale of the work.
The artist flattens out a piece of iron, draws a design on it with chalk, and then cuts it out using just a chisel and a hammer.
The Art and Culture of Haiti<br />CEDFA Fine Arts Summit XI, 2010<br />Samantha Melvin and Nancy Walkup<br />