“We Were Here” exhibit wins Lexington ADDYs award

Published 5:32 pm Thursday, March 30, 2023

Centre College’s Norton Center for the Arts won the prestigious Mosaic Award for the “We Were Here: The African-American Experience in Boyle County” exhibition. Presented at the annual Lexington American Advertising Awards (ADDYs), the Mosaic Award recognizes companies and individuals who embody a commitment to a more diverse, equitable and inclusive advertising industry.

Norton Center Creative Marketing Manager and exhibit graphic designer Raven Shelton accepted the award during the March 17 ADDYs gala, which was attended by advertising industry leaders and creatives from across the state.

“Designing a space around such a significant part of Boyle County’s history and witnessing its impact on the community has been an incredibly rewarding part of this project,” said Shelton. “It is an honor to have contributed to a project that celebrates diversity and educates on the outcome of urban renewal in our local African American community.”

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The “We Were Here” exhibit is a historical audio and visual storytelling project that celebrates the rich African American heritage of Danville and Boyle County, while acknowledging the societal and cultural erasure endured by the local African American community in the name of urban renewal. The exhibit is the result of an extensive collaboration between the Norton Center, Centre College students, the Danville Boyle County African American Historical Society and the entire community.

The project began over a year ago, when the Norton Center was approached by the DBCAAHS and their longtime collaborator and Centre professor Dr. Jeffrey Shenton. The goal was to spotlight the work DBCAAHS was doing, which most recently included a collection of oral histories from members of the Black community.

“What started as an idea to have a small display quickly turned into a full-scale, multimedia exhibition project that would be featured in the Norton Center’s grand foyer for an entire year,” said Engagement Services Coordinator Molly Baker.

Baker coordinated the entire project, attending regular meetings with members of the DBCAAHS, Jeff Shenton, Steve Hoffman and Centre students to work through the photos, text and messages presented.

“Showcasing the stories, experiences and ideas of artists and community members from diverse backgrounds is a crucial part of the Norton Center’s mission,” said Norton Center Executive Director Steve Hoffman. “The Norton Center is proud to collaborate with the Danville-Boyle County African American Historical Society and Centre students to create an exhibition that shares such rich history. The exhibition is, without a doubt, transformative for the entire community, and this award is shared with all of the exhibit partners.”

The American Advertising Awards is the advertising industry’s largest and most representative competition, attracting over 40,000 entries every year in local ad club competitions. The mission of the ADDYs competition is to recognize and reward the creative spirit of excellence in the art of advertising. This is the third year the Mosaic Award has been presented at the Lexington ADDYs.

“While the photographs and stories collected by the DBCAAHS are the foundation of this exhibition, we couldn’t be more grateful to Raven, whose graphic design work visually codified the entire space and materials that prompted the exhibition and programs,” said Baker. “Her work brought ‘We Were Here’ to life.”

The Norton Center for the Arts is a leading cultural and art institution in Danville, Kentucky, dedicated to promoting diverse experiences through exhibits, performances and other engagement programs. The “We Were Here” exhibit is just one example of the Norton Center’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, and the efforts made to create a more equitable society through the arts.

“We Were Here” is sponsored by Farmers National Bank, WealthSouth, Kentucky Historical Society, Kentucky Oral History Commission, Kentucky Humanities and Kentucky Arts Council.

For more information about the Norton Center for the Arts and “We Were Here,” visit www.nortoncenter.com. The Norton Center is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The exhibit is free to the public.