Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest
Across 9 years, we have worked with this site of one of Thomas Jefferson's plantations, beginning to recognize and restore the memory and dignity of the enslaved men, women, and children who lived and labored here whether Jefferson was present or not.
Our 2013-2015 Interpretive Planning process put the wheels of change in motion, serving as the catalyst to build relationships with the area's African American community, including descendants. Together, we expanded the story from solely Jefferson to add the enslaved population. In 2016, our Schematic Design studied, conceived, and documented a program of exhibits throughout the house and landscape to realize that theme.
Phase 1 of the exhibits opened in late 2022, naming enslaved individuals and restoring their memories to the place. The parts of our work that are most visible are the organization of the experience, text writing, design, and art direction. Underneath that are stakeholder engagement, project management, and formative evaluation.
The purpose of Phase 1 was defined way back at the beginning:
"Convey the hardship of slavery, as well as stories of resistance, resilience, and agency: 'our results should reflect humanity, life, love, fortitude, strength, grace and light.'"
E.B. Lewis (art)
Drumminhands Design (design)
Aurora Consulting (evaluation)
Pam Smith (research and engagement)
Leslie King (facilitation)
Argentine Productions (media concepts)