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The Shotgun Shack/House: A Family Affair From the other side of the track

  • Broadcast in Visual Arts
Phantom Gallery Chicago Network

Phantom Gallery Chicago Network


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In Chicago, Shotgun House is a corruption of the word.  Felicia Grant Preston, Duane Preston, Renard Preston, Ciera L, Preston, and Jihad El Amin will focus on issues that each feels strongly about. This installation will include a clothesline and other visual and auditory effects.


The traditional shotgun house is a narrow rectangular residence, usually no more than 12 feet wide, with rooms arranged one behind the other. Its doors are located at each end of the house. The Shotgun house is also referred to as a Shotgun Shack, Shotgun Hut, or Shotgun Cottage. 

There is much controversy surrounding the origin of the Shotgun House, some saying that it’s origins can be traced back to Africa, Haiti, or the West Indies, and popularized in New Orleans.  There is a further suggestion that there may be a more spiritual reason for its name. In West Africa, it may have been derived from the word “shogun” which is translated to “God’s House”, or from a Dahomey Fon term “to-gun” which means place of assembly. 

The most common reference to the Shotgun house is, that if you fire a Shotgun through the front door, the shot would pass through each room, and out the back door without hitting anything. The typical Shotgun House is wood framed, with wood siding, and is generally associated with poverty. The Shotgun House, which often was considered as substandard housing, has also been referenced as housing for “a poor class of tenant”.  

The basic premise behind the shotgun house in our installation is regarding poverty in this country, and lack. We want to use this as a symbol of Lack (without resources). Lack of educational resources, lack of concern, lack of income, lack of humanity, lack of common decency.