DREAMS OF FREEDOM: The Threads That Hold Us TogetherJul 25, 2022 02:30PM ● By Beatrice Joyner
Who: The Johnson House Historic Site and The Sankofa Artisans Guild
What: Commemoration of Harriet Tubman’s 200th Birth Year
Where: 6306 Germantown Ave., Phila., PA 19144
When: June 8, 2022 - July 31, 2022
The exhibit which started at Philadelphia City Hall, is helping the city with its months-long 200th anniversary celebration of Harriet Tubman’s life. Dreams of Freedom is now on exhibit at the Johnson House in historic Germantown. This National Historic Landmark was an Underground Railroad Station in Philadelphia, one of few that is open to the public. It was home to three generations of a Quaker family who initially held slaves but later became active abolitionists. The Tubman exhibit will move next to Pennsbury Manor in Bucks County, the reconstructed home of Pennsylvania founder William Penn.
When Sankofa Artisans Guild issued a call for art to honor the legacy of Harriet Tubman during her 200th birthday celebration at Philadelphia City Hall, artists and crafters from around the nation responded. They met a short deadline that included winter holidays, tornados, snowstorms and a refreshed Covid pandemic.
Nearly 30 intrepid artists reached Tubman’s well-known level of determination to complete works and navigate a overwhelmed mail services.
Alongside works by Sankofa members, artists offered quilts plus a wide range of multi -media tributes from Philadelphia and nearby counties. Works came from points north-- New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island; from points south—Virginia, South Carolina, and Florida, and west-- from Michigan, Nebraska, and California. Artists were as determined as Nana Tubman to reach Philadelphia and celebrate her life.
The innovative artworks span the gamut; quiltmakers updated ancient patterns--Monkey wrench, Drunkard’s path, and rail fence in fresh African prints and batiks. They are a visual testimony to Nana Tubman’s African heritage and the value of African culture for modern quilters and crafters. Other makers recall Tubman with objects that adorned her own life—a purse, a book, a shawl. Beads & lace, yarn and paper were sculpted to fashion Nana Tubman in a variety of roles, illustrating the life of a working woman, a soldier, a hero across generations.
Tubman’s life coincided with the birth of photography. In her time, photographers captured Tubman in life stages that range from a fierce Conductor on the Underground Railroad to elderly stateswoman, draped in lace.
Artists freely sample these images, some with literal digital reproductions. Others craft their own impressions with prints on fabric, paper, stained glass, a wooden ironing board. Those artists who paint with fabric collage a vivid array of fabrics to re-imagine and bring Tubman to life. Two hundred years after her birth, Nana Tubman is dynamic in our hearts and imaginations. Her larger-than-life deeds are unmatched for their service to our people, our community, our nation, our world. In 2022, we celebrate 200 years of the legacy of Nana Harriet Tubman with Dreams of Freedom: The Threads that Hold Us Together. Sankofa Artisans Guild
Sankofa Artisans Guild (SAG) was established in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 2019 as a diverse group came together to share their love of art, artists and art making of the African diaspora. Sankofa, in the language and symbols of the Akan people of Ghana, means “learn from the past.” Sankofa members are themselves a repository of creative spirit and force, with members who represent three generations of established painters, woodworkers, and textile artists. SAG embraces, supports, and encourages all forms of artistic expression, including quilting, the needle arts, sculpture, woodworking, poetry, mosaics, beading, leatherworking, assemblage and more. The Guild seeks to maintain a supportive environment where artists can collaborate, learn, and grow.
Sankofa Artisans Guild