Finding Kenyon Barr

Thursday, November 30, 2017

I went to a panel discussion about the photography of Kenyon Barr, where curator Anne Delano Steinert discussed her rationale and intent of the exhibit, Jim Damico from the Cincinnati Museum Center gave insight to the entire collection and Nick Swartsell presented some personal works that brought together the collection in a modern context.

From the introduction:

There was never a neighborhood called Kenyon Barr. The name first appeared in Cincinnati’s 1948 Metropolitan Master Plan which initiated a twenty-year project to acquire, clear, and resell Cincinnati’s lower West End. The project, officially called the Kenyon Barr Urban Renewal Project, was documented in a series of photographs now held by Cincinnati Museum Center. This exhibit is made up of a small fraction of that photo collection.

The Kenyon Barr urban renewal area included 297 acres of land, most of which was residential. The project caused the displacement of over 25,000 neighborhood residents, 97% of whom were African American, the demolition of over 2663 buildings containing more than 7000 dwelling units, and the elimination of more than 30 streets and alleys.

A discussion afterward included folks in the audience who lived in this area of town and shared their memories. Powerful stuff, about change and gentrification—about how we’re seeing this type of eradication all over again, and how we, when we come together, might forge a better future.

More on the Kenyon Barr collection:

Conversation with Kenyon Barr resident

Anne Delano Steinert chats with a former resident

Jim DaMico

James Damico of the Cincinnati Museum Center

Sample Kenyon Barr Photograph

Detail of Kenyon Barr photograph

Kenyon Barr Exhibit

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