Blake Chamberlain: colorful portraits, imaginative paintings, thoroughly modern and original art.
Portraits of Harriet Tubman
"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.)
My Social Visionaries Re-Imagined Series led to an opportunity to collaborate with the renowned quilt artist Sheila Frampton-Cooper on a 3' x 5' quilt portrait of Harriet Tubman. The quilt was displayed in two museums before being sold with the intention of being displayed in a future Auburn, NY Visitor Center. It is now displayed at Auburn, NY's City Hall. For more info on the Harriet Tubman Quilt, please click here.
Since I painted the first portrait in 2013, I have been asked to consider making the portrait into a t-shirt design. I completed this design in 2016 and it is modeled above my my mom and stepfather. The design is available on t-shirts and mugs. In Auburn, NY look for it at Fingerlakes Arts Store on Genesee St. Downtown. Online sales can be made in my shop.
In 2016 I was commissioned to produce this Harriet Tubman $20 painting in celebration of the decision that Harriet Tubman's portrait should appear on the $20 bill. The painting was prominently displayed at The 2nd Annual Strawberry Stroll for Harriet Tubman event in Auburn, NY is currently on view at Auburn, NY's City Hall.
The Harriet Tubman design was also chosen to be a graphic for The Harriet Tubman Boosters, an Auburn, NY organization that endeavors " to keep the memory of Harriet Tubman's remarkable life's work in the forefront, constantly shining a light for all who pursue a free, peaceful and productive society".