I Was Here is a series of ‘On the Street Museums’ bringing art into the public square to instill a deeper understanding of our common humanity. We see this project as an antibiotic for wounds in America that are difficult to isolate and seek to stimulate a conversation about who we were, who we are, and who we can be.
The first iteration of this project is an exhibition which consists of 21 Ancestor Spirit Portraits shown on Cheapside Square. For over 50 years Cheapside was among the largest slave auction sites in America. In 1911 statues of John Hunt Morgan and John Breckenridge, paid for by the state of Kentucky and the United Daughters of the Confederacy, were installed on Cheapside Square. When they were removed in 2017, the Confederate statues had remained on the former slave market for 106 years.
I Was Here seeks to sanctify the ground where enslaved Africans were bought and sold and asks us to create a common path forward where all are honored. We envision These Ancestor Spirit Portraits becoming a permanent memorial in Cheapside Square. They were installed in the fall of 2018 in the windows of Cheapside Square, where they remain today.