The Spirit of Place: Traditions of the Agrarian Home in Barbados and the Lowcountry

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Photo by Bob Kiss

This autumn, the City Gallery at Waterfront Park will feature an exhibition exploring perspectives on New World building traditions and typographies common to the Caribbean and the Southeastern United States.  This curated exhibit brings together artists’ perspectives on the architecture of Barbados and the Sea Islands of the Carolinas with documentation of the history of these building types from the Avery Research Center for African American History and The Slave Dwelling Project, organized by Joseph McGill, Jr., Field Officer with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, to examine the nature of house and home.

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Photo by Julia Cart

Central to the exhibit will be a model of a Barbadian chattel house, constructed in participation with the American College of the Building Arts.  Chattel houses, designed to be moved, allowed itinerant workers to relocate between different plantations and farms on Barbados according to the seasonal need, availability of work, or even if a dispute with their employer warranted it. Traditionally made of wood and assembled without nails, a chattel house could be folded in upon itself and then carted to its next destination.

This exhibition, which will run at the City Gallery at Waterfront Park from September 7 through October 6, 2013, will feature the work of Barbadian photographer Bob Kiss and native Charlestonian Julia Cart, as well as photos from the Avery Research Center archives by Guy Carawan and images by Terry James of the Slave Dwelling Project.

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We would like to gratefully acknowledge the American College of the Building Arts and the Barbados and Carolinas Legacy Foundation for assistance and collaboration on the model chattel house and other aspects of this exhibition.   We would also like to thank Buck Lumber, Lansing Building Products,  Lauri Huss of Huss Construction,  and Sherwin Williams for their donations to the chattel house project.