Madonna realized that many people would want to see Harriet Tubman as a part of this mural project for Champions of Change, because she’s such an inspiration, especially for under-served and overlooked communities.
Madonna decided to make Tubman the primary focus in her piece. It only seemed right to have her portrait here, large and centrally focused, overlooking the Niagara region, which was the last stop to freedom on the Underground Railroad, as well as an area that meant hope and freedom for so many.
In the piece, Tubman wears red head scarf in stark contrast to the surrounding scene. Her face is framed by a blue and yellow stained glass brick pattern and halo, often seen in religious artworks, alluding to Tubman’s nickname “Moses.” To the left is a scene of silhouetted escapees being led by a younger Harriet Tubman figure through a silhouetted forest. The forest and the figures lead us to right of the portrait, where an exaggerated abstract scene displays the historic Suspension Bridge and Niagara Falls in the distance below.
Images of Tubman can help to inspire and remind people today that they can work against the odds and lean on their communities as a means to change their lives and to help others, just as she did when she worked with the Underground Railroad community.
It doesn’t have to be history — we can make things happen today and encourage our talented and impressionably youth, showing them that they have a chance to become whatever they wish to be.
Positive things have been happening in Niagara Falls. There are numerous community initiatives and resources available. This mural will be a symbol of all that is being done to bring more attention and hope to this community.