Listening House is a story, an interactive exhibition, and a physical space that offers recollection and investigation of the earliest built forms signifying both familial existence and personal history in the United States.
As definitions of identity and geographical nationality transform, we develop an impetus to uncover the earliest known “place” in our personal and family sagas. For people of color, immigrants, and members of non-binary groups, this is of especial pertinence.
Architecture, along with its construction and evolutionary re-appropriation, remains the most perceptible indicator of human kinship and loss. Listening House offers a sanctum for uncovering the structures, places, and ports of entry that signify individual existence in the U.S.
The backdrop for Listening House are the reconstructed rooms of the stick-built home erected by my African-American ancestors, the Shumakes, during the late 19th century. The Shumake home exemplifies a time when African-Americans were arguably the most proficient craftsmen and women in the U.S. The house further epitomizes an era when lay people were responsible for both the conception and construction of their own homes. In contrast, the majority of contemporary society is uninvolved in the genesis of built form and the manner in which it patterns our reality.
Listening House cultivates the connection between personal narrative and physical place by returning to the public authorship of the stories borne by the built environment.