The artist first encountered the houses and people that would inspire these works as a child while accompanying her father, a professor of agriculture, on tours of farms across South Carolina. Some of these farmers would have been sharecroppers, renting their land under often highly unfavorable terms in exchange for a share of the crop. Throughout the South, such a practice allowed for a kind of continuation of slavery, tying families to the land through debt. However, Buchanan recognized in the homes and gardens these individuals created for themselves a vitality animated by their defiant hopes and dreams—a far cry from stereotypes of hopelessness and poverty.
While Buchanan's work was previously featured in the exhibition We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85, Brown Shack and Seagrass Shack are her first sculptures to enter the museum's collection.