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I Was Here: A conversation to create
a shared vision for the future through art & history


Ancester Spirit Portraits, Cheapside, Lexington, KY Join the Kentucky Arts Council and Kentucky Historical Society for an online workshop about the I Was Here project that offers an entry point for citizens to engage with the past through art. Based on archival records, the enslavement of Africans touched almost every corner of the United States. I Was Here synthesizes a wealth of humanities and historical scholarship into a set of iconic Ancestor Spirit Portraits that create a visual history bringing the past into view.

Historians working with the project draw connections between the installations of Ancestor Spirit Portraits and the foundation of the American experience. The project combines art and history to examine wounds of the past with the goal of creating a shared humanity for the future.

The online workshop will feature a panel conversation about the work, the confluence of history and art, and its usefulness as a community tool to bring Americans together to examine and learn from the past, to build a future that is inclusive and equitable for all.

The webinar will be 11 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 3, and will be presented live and online via Zoom. Registration is free and is required. Participants will receive a link to the workshop after they register.

Panelists are:

  • Marshall Fields, Lexington, corporate facilitator, community liaison

  • Marjorie Guyon, Lexington, artist

  • Dr. Amanda L. Higgins, Community Engagement Administrator, Kentucky Historical Society

  • Mary Quinn Ramer, Lexington, president of VisitLex

  • Dr. Gerald Smith, Lexington, professor of history in the Department of History, University of Kentucky

Register Now

I Was Here began as a collaboration between artist Marjorie Guyon, photographer Patrick Mitchell, and poet Nikky Finney. The project was imagined in 2016 and launched October 2018 at Cheapside, one of America's largest slave auction sites, in Lexington, Ky.

For more information, contact Emily B. Moses, executive staff advisor, Kentucky Arts Council, at

This workshop is part of the Kentucky Creative Industry Summit Series. In response to COVID-19, the Kentucky Arts Council will present workshops online throughout the year in lieu of the annual in-person Kentucky Creative Industry Summit.



KY Arts Council Kentucky Historical Society


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