“Swing Low:” Harriet Tubman Memorial Installed in College’s New Sculpture Garden

Swing Low II

The first sculpture to be installed in Scripps College’s new sculpture garden is one of artistic, cultural, and social significance. It was created by a Scripps College alumna, renowned sculptor Alison Saar ’78, who donated it to the College. Swing Low: Harriet Tubman Memorial, 2007, is a smaller version of Saar’s massive 13-foot-tall public sculpture, commissioned by the City of New York and installed in Harlem. It depicts Tubman as an unstoppable force of the Underground Railway. The cast-bronze sculpture shows Tubman coming on full steam with her petticoat pushing aside all resistance. On the surface of her skirt, pressing through the folds of the fabric, are small mask-like faces representing the men, women, and children Tubman led to freedom.

The sculpture was dedicated on Harriet Tubman Day, March 10, 2010, in Bixby Court, in front of the Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery. The sculpture garden is located on the Millard Sheets Art Center grounds surrounding Bixby Court.

The dedication featured a short gospel program performed by the Claremont Chamber Choir and remarks from Saar and Professor Emerita Samella Lewis, one of Saar’s most influential instructors at Scripps College. Professor Lewis, a leader in the visual arts, founded the Museum of African Art in Los Angeles and co-founded the journal Black Art. Lynne Thompson ’72 recited a poem she wrote for the dedication.

Watch the dedication

 

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