"Harriet Tubman"/ 12" x 16" / acrylic on canvas / 2013
(Original in a private collection)
In the Summer of 2013, I painted the Harriet Tubman. I was planning a show at The William H. Seward House Museum in Auburn, NY and decided it would be a wonderful opportunity to paint portraits of the fascinating historically significant people who lived in and near to Auburn, NY. Harriet was the first one I decided to paint, of course. My hometown is Auburn, NY, the town Harriet Tubman settled in. I grew up hearing stories about Harriet Tubman-- her astounding bravery and selflessness which personally rescued at least 70 people from the horrors of slavery, and inspired countless others.
When I painted this portrait, I had just recently begun to try a new style of painting. I was interested in creating faces from different brightly colored abstract elements, so that they registered as a face, but also sparked curiosity to look in closer at the individual elements. I thought Harriet Tubman's face would be an ideal subject for this style-- that moment of looking into those abstract pieces that made up her features would also invent a kind of reverent pause.
(To see more pieces in the "Social Visionaries Re-Imagined" Series honoring Central New York historical figures who worked for justice, please click here.)