• Architectures of Abolition
    Jerald "Coop" Cooper

“Freedom Stairway,” Undated. Photograph, 4.7 x 5.9 inches. Courtesy Ohio Historical Center Archives Library, Columbus

While there is much written on the conditions of enslavement, there are few resources available that deal specifically with the infrastructures of liberation that predated the end of the Civil War—specifically to an audience of architects and artists. This exhibit focuses on the buildings of the Underground Railroad that define “Architectures of Abolition.” As such, the presentation suggests the intimate details of architecture as part of a mortal struggle: the consequences of the misidentification of a building could result in a runaway slave’s return to bondage or even death. The nuances of design, communicated as anecdotes–specific details, colors, patterns, flags–had to be identified in order to ensure freedom. By focusing on these spaces along the borderlands of Ohio, and identifying, cataloguing, and exhibiting the architecture of safe houses along the Underground Railroad, the exhibit challenges individuals to confront the more than 400-year history of enslaved people in the United States, and the struggle for liberation that continues to this day.

Jerald “Coop” Cooper is the founder of cultural impact design agency Things We’ve Made, which includes their booming project HOOD MID CENTURY MODERN. HOOD CENTURY has gained national recognition in the New York Times, Vogue, Architectural Digest, Dwell Magazine, HighSnobiety, and more, as a historical preservation society and media company bringing preservation, architecture, and design to a new audience. His start in the industry began with branding for Kevin Hart, Michael B. Jordan, and eventually transitioned to management and business development for Ama Lou, and Grammy Award-winning audio engineer, Young Guru. Cooper is a fellow for the National Trust’s AACHP chapter. His works lie at the intersection of culture, art, architecture, design, fashion, and film.