A lecture and presentation on the I Was Here project will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 7 at 2pm in Pence 209.
The I Was Here project began in 2016 as a set of emblematic Ancestor Spirit Portraits created by photographing contemporary African Americans as archetypal Ancestor Spirits. The portraits embody Family: mother, father, brother, sister. They form cohesive, ethereal images that convey the dignity of the African American individual and family – imagery mostly missing in America’s visual history.
The “here” of I Was Here begins with an honest look at the history of place and creates a monument to a people. Ancestor Spirit Portraits have been integrated into key historic sites across America. Through these installations, the iconic Spirit Portraits create a visual for an invisible history. They ask us to examine who we are to each other, who we are as a nation, and how we can work to heal the wound in our citizenship created by enslavement.
What I Was Here accomplishes with its public art and public history installations is a mindful, reverent, and powerful acknowledgment of American history. The project invites as much as it prods visitors to allow this acknowledgment to hold public space and to accept the echoes layered into the project’s name, I Was Here.
Because of the unique melding of the arts, architecture, history, and geography, the project has been awarded grants and honors from the American Association for State and Local History, National Endowment for the Arts, CODAworx, Kentucky Humanities, and the Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation, among others.
The I Was Here Team includes Dr. Michael Preacely, Daniel Ware AIA, Marshall Fields, Barry Burton, Marjorie Guyon, and Michael Baer.