Beverly Buchanan began creating her shack sculptures in the mid-1980s while living and working in Macon, Georgia. While she made large-scale abstract paintings and land art in her early career, she is widely recognized for her sculptures of shacks made from media such as wood, tin, cardboard, foam core, and other materials. As a young girl, Buchanan accompanied her great-uncle, Walter Buchanan, the Dean at the School of Agriculture at South Carolina State University, as he traveled throughout rural South Carolina. Her shacks, which are clearly informed by the tenant farmers she met, exemplify the creativity and ingenuity that is often a hallmark of southern vernacular architecture.
Like many of her other shacks, Untitled, Red Ladder (1995), an evocative rendition of a shotgun house, draws from her childhood recollections and experiences. While they capture the dwellings she saw, they also explore the historic legacy of slavery and racism in America and exemplify her lifelong investigation of gender, class, inequality, and social and economic injustice. Through works such as this that highlight some of the most vulnerable, forgotten communities of the rural South, Buchanan brings the complex relationships between commemoration, social justice, and marginalization into a critical context.