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John Biggers

Shotgun, Third Ward #1
tempera and oil
30 x 48 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, purchase made possible by Anacostia Museum, Smithsonian Institution

Shotgun houses are considered an African American form of vernacular architecture. They acquired this name because, supposedly, a shotgun blast fired through the front door would pass straight through the house and out the back. Biggers, instead, suggests that the name is a corruption of the word shogon, a Yoruba term from West Africa that means “God's House.”