I Was Here

I Was Here: reshaping the American Commemorative Landscape to heal the wound that enslavement created in a shared citizenship.

The basis of the project is a set of emblematic images of contemporary African Americans transformed into representative Ancestor Spirit Portraits. I Was Here creates a visual stimulus in for an invisible history in public space.

Ancestor Spirit Portraits will be integrated into the DFM and throughout the neighborhood of Inwood. These images will comprise an ‘on the street museum’ along with the I Was Here (IWH) soundscape and will comprise a walking tour that addresses history and brings the arts to the streetscape simultaneously.

The IWH work for the DFM will integrate Ancestor Spirit Portraits into spiritually and historically significant sites across the city creating an ‘on the street museum’ in Inwood. This is a model for small and large history ‘house’ museums around the country.



I Was Here: Reshaping the American Commemorative Landscape

The project is a synthesis of history, image, geography, and soundscape creating an opportunity for citizens of all ages to come face to face with a visual history lesson rarely, if ever, encountered on the streets of America. Created by photographing contemporary African Americans as archetypal Ancestor Spirits, the Portraits embody the Human Family: Man, Woman, Child, Mother, Father, Brother, Sister, Brother. These emblematic Ancestor Portraits ask us to examine who we are to each other, who we are as a nation and how we can address healing the wound that enslavement created.

Through reshaping the American Commemorative Landscape, we present an opportunity to help repair the wound that enslavement created in our citizenship.

Dr. Michael Preacely, Music Producer/Director

Marjorie Guyon, Artist

Patrick J. Mitchell, Photographer
Mary Quinn, CEO VisitLex

Syndy Deese, Administrative Volunteer

Marshall Fields, Community Liaison

Barry Burton, Prayer, Model, Installations, and Writer


This program is made possible by funding from the New York Community Trust.