BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore artist Stephen Towns’ work is now teaching people about a part of American history at the nation’s largest cultural destination devoted exclusively to documenting and exploring the African American story.

“It still feels surreal, it doesn’t feel real,” said Towns.

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These eight pieces of his are now featured at the Smithsonian’s Museum of African American History and Culture.

“The pieces are called ‘An Offering’ as a way of me offering some sort of love to them and honoring their memory,” said Towns.

Each one of the portraits are of people from West Africa who were taken from their homes and forced into the Middle Passage Atlantic slave trade.

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“You’ll see these little small portraits and you’ll also see that shape of a slave ship created with quilts,” said Towns.

Towns said some of the people depicted have been forgotten, but he wants to make sure they’re remembered through his work while also inspiring others to learn more about their stories.

“I hope that long after I’m gone that they inspire more work and more research into American history,” he said.

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You can see Towns’ pieces now on display on the fourth floor of the museum.

Stetson Miller