Harriet Tubman Memorial Stands as a Symbol of Fortitude and Freedom in Harlem

Harlem, NEW YORK—Alison Saar’s depiction of Harriet Tubman is dignified and imposing. The abolitionist and leader of the Underground Railroad looks like a real change maker—her expression is one of determination.

“Swing Low” the Harriet Tubman Memorial in Harlem was installed five years ago at a monumental intersection where Frederick Douglass Boulevard, West 122nd Street and St. Nicholas Avenue meet. The site is now “Harriet Tubman Triangle.”

The sculpture of the freedom fighter is rife with symbolism. As Tubman strides forward the “roots of slavery” weigh her down; her skirt features images that represent passengers on the railroad, some inspired by West African “passport masks”; the icons around the base of the memorial alternately reference moments in the abolitionist’s life and traditional quilt symbols.

Saar, a critically acclaimed sculptor, recently had a series of work titled “Feallan and Fallow” exhibited in Madison Square Park.

All photos by Arts Observer

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