The Lyric's mission includes celebrating diverse cultures, with special emphasis on African American cultural heritage, through artistic presentation of the highest quality. With our rotating exhibits in our Gallery & Museum, The Lyric is able to highlight the talents of local, regional and national artists, all free of charge for the public to view and enjoy.
Tuesday - Friday: 11:00 am - 5:00 pm
Group tours available by appointment - call (859) 280-2201 for more information.
In The Lyric's Museum
In our Museum, The Lyric is extremely proud to feature works of community artists and artist groups who have donated their work to us. These artists represent the diversity and core of our mission, and we are proud to host their work for all of our patrons and supporters to enjoy.
Permanent Display in The Lyric's Lobby:
I Was Here is a public art project that features images of contemporary African-American men, women, and children, turned into "Ancestor Spirit Portraits” in a collaboration between artist Marjorie Guyon and photographer Patrick J. Mitchell with language from a poem by Nikky Finney interwoven into some of the pieces. These portraits, acting as a living memorial to the enslaved persons bought and sold, are installed on roman blinds in windows of businesses across the country. Isn’t there a sort of poetic irony in using blinds to open our eyes and minds?
Through collaged coordinates and poetry, the portraits reference significant touch points in the history of slavery and civil rights in the Americas. Collage, as an approach to image-making, also allows multiple points of entry for the viewer. It is a physical manifestation of how the stories of many can coalesce. The collaged portraits form cohesive, ethereal images that convey the dignity of the African-American subject and family – two great casualties of slavery and things much at a loss in this country’s visual history. Furthermore, for a community that, through oppression, is lacking substantial access to genealogical resources, these portraits can act as a set of archetypal ancestors for those who have lost a way to trace their own.”
The first installation of the project manifests as a means to sanctify spaces where enslaved Africans were bought and sold. It is composed of 21 Ancestor Spirit Portraits and launched on the public square of Cheapside, the heart of Lexington, Kentucky - which was one of the largest slave auction sites in the United States. But it crosses the world referencing the Bight of Benin, the Igbo Landing on St. Simon’s Island Georgia, the Broeck Race Course in Savannah, where the largest two-day sale of enslaved persons occurred, as well as other physical locations central to the long lucrative life of the transatlantic Middle Passage slave trade. We believe that the spirit of the past can be redeemed and our future, as a shared humanity, more richly nurtured.
The mission of the project is twofold—to create a memorial to those who were sold into slavery and in doing so, to seek a path beyond who we were and move toward a vision of who we could be…. to instill a deeper understanding of our common humanity and to create a means to "see the world with different eyes”.
Although this project launches in Kentucky, the repercussions from slavery are not merely a 'southern issue'. It is a national wound that we, as fellow Americans, must heal. Central to the project is a blessing that augments the visual imagery. There is a prayer spoken at the epicenter of each site to sanctify the space.