LexPark - Victorian Square Garage
Breeder's Cup Festival (October 2015)
Poem by Nick Stump, Artwork by Marjorie Guyon, Projections by Tom Willis
Projected in Downtown Lexington during the 2016 Breeder's Cup Festival
The project, sponsored by the Breeders Cup Festival, was imagined as a “Letter of Welcome to the People of the World” in Lexington for Breeders Cup. It brought together the combined talents of noted Kentucky writer and blues musician, Nick Stump, Tom Willis, Technical Director of the Downtown Arts Center and Marjorie Guyon. Our interest was to meld image, language and light. The projection manifested as projected video on a downtown building. It premiered during the popular Halloween “Thriller” spectacle, and continued to run nightly during the Breeder’s Cup Festival. The project was a visual counterpoint aimed to bring beauty and light to a pedestrian and traffic heavy part of downtown.
Commissioned by the Lexington Parking Authority, this project addresses both the interior and exterior of the Victorian Square Parking Garage. The exterior installation works as a direction sign to lead patrons into the Garage and the 4 interior pieces illuminate an otherwise empty waiting area on each floor – creating a moment of light and beauty in the garage.
Urbandesign.org defines Civic art as the sum total of the architecture, public spaces, monuments, urban design, and landscape of a city, but it is far more than the sum of the parts. Civic art is place making into art that creates timeless civic values and helps define cultures. Guyon's projects create public exhibitions that citizens encounter as they go about their day to day lives serving as a means to integrate the transcendent experience of art into the everyday business of living.
Nation of Nations (2010)
This series of 10 pieces collectively embodies the spirit of Walt Whitman who said in his 1855 essay, Preface to the Leaves of Grass: “Here is not merely a Nation but a teeming Nation of Nations”.
The project offers a promise of hope in uncertain times. It reclaims America and her principles of liberty and justice for all with paintings entitled My Country, Of Thee, I Sing, Sweetland, Of Liberty O Beautiful, Crowned, Thy Good, Sea 2 and Shining. These phrases are pulled from the songs we sang as children in elementary school, “My Country, Tis of Thee” and “America the Beautiful” .
Like statues from ancient Greece, the figures in this project are unnamed and unknown. They represent us all, without the entanglements of gender, race and religion. Each 6’8” - as tall as we could be if we stretched. In the upper corner of every panel, the phrase “Have Mercy on Us” appears in 10 languages: Cherokee, Chinese, English, Arabic, Hindi, Hebrew, Swahili, Spanish, Russian and Haitian Creole. The phrase was translated by people from all around the world. It represents the powerful and common human need to be accepted and harkens to each of us to consider the way we have been taught to welcome the stranger, to give comfort to those who suffer, and to see that without mercy, we each bear the burden of the outcast.
The universal language of mathematics is interwoven through the images the way that numbers identify and define us - who and what we are, how much and how little we have. The phone number of childhood, street address, social security number, bar code, zip code, numbers tattooed onto the arms of the Jews, the branding of slaves.
We cannot wait for someone else to act as a catalyst to engage our community, our country or our world.
I Was Here https://www.i-was-here.org/ is a public art project initiated in the fall of 2019 in Lexington, KY. The first installation of this 'on the street museum' is in Cheapside, the public square surrounding the old Courthouse - once the site of one of the largest auction blocks for enslaved people. The mission of the project is twofold - to create a memorial to those who were once sold into slavery and in doing so, to seek a path beyond who we were and move into a vision of who we could be. The project aims to instill a deeper understanding of our common humanity and to create a means to "see the world with new eyes". The repercussions from slavery are not a 'southern issue'. It is a national wound that we, as fellow Americans. must work together to acknowledge and heal.
The project is composed of twenty-one Ancestor Spirit Portraits and references Cheapside along with 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.
Central to the project are two elements that augment the visual imagery.
The first is a partnership with libraries to host the Ancestor Spirit Portraits and with scholars and librarians across the country to create a reading list of who we were, who we are and who we could be. The reading list serves as a basis for programming for book groups, community conversations and story hours.
The second is a prayer that is spoken at each site where crimes against humanity occurred to sanctify the space. https://www.wkyt.com/video?vid=505652212v
The project is designed to travel across the country to address wounds that are difficult to heal. There are several means to bring this project to your city. We would love to talk with you.
The Greater Clark Foundation and the Clark County-Bluegrass Community Foundation have joined together to invite the project to Winchester, Kentucky. After the installation of the Ancestor Spirit Portraits into the windows and doorways of the city, a second project will launch in the summer of 2019 that utilizes iconic Clark County locations and residents to create a true identity of place that bridges the divides of race, economic status and geography.
This artistic collaboration would not have been possible without support from Wells Fargo, VisitLex, Kentucky Arts Council, Paul Holbrook, The King Library Press at The University of Kentucky, John Hays and Patrick Estill @ JacksonKelly, John Morris, Barry Darnell Burton, Greater Clark Foundation, Clark County- Blue Grass Community Foundation, Knight Foundation Donor Advised Fund at the BGCF, Reimagine Cheapside, Bob Estes, Linda F. Vogel Kaplan, The Wills Gallery, Jeff Boggs and The Carnegie Center for Literacy.
View full project details at I Was Here
Short Street & Limestone Lexington,KY
I Was Here
Keeneland Foundation (2006)
Seven original pieces commissioned to celebrate the beauty and history of Keeneland Racecourse. Limited edition prints created to benefit the Keeneland Foundation.
Illuminated City (January 2017-present)
Main Street, Lexington, KY
The project, sponsored by the Downtown Lexington Management District, brings beauty and light to a pedestrian and traffic heavy part of downtown that has been vacant for some time. Not only does the project create a fascinating streetscape, it calls new attention to the office space available for rent and highlights a local business, in this case a boutique.
The goal of the commission was foremost to illuminate a dark street in the center of downtown. The success of the project relies on large scale dye-sublimation prints on aluminum. This project is a template for an affordable high quality public art.