Jacob Lawrence: The Harriet Tubman Series

May 23-August 4, 2013
Opening Thursday, May 23, 5-7 pm

As a young painter in New York’s Harlem community of the 1930s, Jacob Lawrence (1917-2000) was intent on telling the stories of historical figures and events instrumental in the struggle for liberation from social injustice. Lawrence’s narrative impulse gave rise to multiple, sequential paintings on a single subject, for which he wrote accompanying captions. In the 31 panels making up the Harriet Tubman series, he masterfully combined image and text to recount the life of this heroic American abolitionist, who helped more than 300 slaves reach freedom by way of the Underground Railroad.

On loan from the collection of Hampton University Museum, Hampton, VA.

Image: Jacob Lawrence, The Life of Harriet Tubman, No. 16, 1940; casein tempera on hardboard.  17 7/8 x 12 inches. Courtesy of Hampton University Museum Collection, Hampton University, Hampton, VA. © 2013 The Jacob and Gwendolyn Lawrence Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Harriet Tubman spent many hours at the office of William Still, the loft headquarters of the antislavery Vigilance Committee in Philadelphia. Here, she pored over maps and discussed plans with the keen, educated young secretary of that mysterious organization, the Underground Railroad, whose main branches stretched like a great network from the Mississippi River to the coast.