Exhibit Design: Proun Design, LLC
Media: Northern Light Productions, Inc.
Exhibit Budget: $500k
Illustration: Kyle Baker, Bill Hook, Leslie Evans, Ric Snodgrass
Josiah Henson’s life story reads like a graphic novel: born into slavery in 1789 in Port Tobacco, MD; he watched as his father was savagely beaten and sold south; young Josiah was beaten for trying to learn to read; maimed while protecting his owner and then cheated out of his freedom by same. He finally escaped with his family and set up a settlement in Canada as a safe harbor on the underground railroad. His autobiography inspired Harriet Beecher Stowe to write Uncle Tom’s Cabin—a book that changed the world and ignited civil war in the United States.
Proun, in collaboration with Northern Light Productions, designed exhibits that chronicle the life of Josiah Henson while unpacking the myth of the Uncle Tom stereotype. To that end, we have enlisted the talents of Kyle Baker, an African American graphic novel illustrator, to dramatically illuminate the chapters of his life. Artifacts, media, and quotes from Henson’s autobiography provide context for the narrative displayed on rear-lit graphic panels throughout the house that belonged to the man that enslaved Henson and his family.