Art

Harriet Tubman
Benjamin F. Powelson/Smithsonian

The City of Philadelphia Opens Call for Artists for Permanent Harriet Tubman Statue


The City of Philadelphia’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy (OACCE) and the African American Historic Statue Advisory Committee, announce a competition to commission a site-specific, public art statue on the Northeast apron of City Hall that will celebrate Harriet Tubman’s life, story and legacy.

The City of Philadelphia Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy (OACCE) and the African American Historic Statue Advisory Committee (Advisory Committee)—which consists of public art professionals, historians, educators, students, community representatives, and family members of Harriet Tubman—opened the Call for Artists in an effort to commission the most-qualified and skilled artist to design a permanent Harriet Tubman statue. This is the next step in the process to install a statue on the Northeast apron of City Hall that will celebrate Harriet Tubman’s life, legacy, and contributions to our nation’s history. It will also be the first statue of an African American historic female figure in the City’s public art collection. 

Proposals are being solicited through the City’s public art commissioning process to attract a wide variety of high-quality design ideas and original creative expressions for this important and historic public art project in Philadelphia.

The deadline for Part 1: Submission of Qualifications is January 26, 2023, at 5:00 p.m. (ET). 

For Part 1, interested artists or artist teams are invited to submit their demographic information, artist statement and resume, examples of prior completed artwork, and responses to questions related to this specific opportunity. The five most qualified applicants will be narrowed down into a smaller group of semi-finalists who will move on to the next stage of the competition (Part 2).  

For Part 2, the top five artists who are selected by the Advisory Committee as semi-finalists will receive stipends to create and propose original designs for the Harriet Tubman statue. A finalist will be selected from the competing semi-finalists for ultimate approval by the Philadelphia Art Commission. 

The deadline for Part 2: Semi-Finalist Proposals is June 9, 2023, at 5:00 p.m. (ET).

The Call for Artists for the Harriet Tubman statue will be distributed locally and nationally through OACCE’s email lists, social media accounts, website, job boards such as Greater Philadelphia Job Bank and InLiquid, and local organizations. A more detailed timeline and project milestones for the Harriet Tubman statue are available on OACCE’s website. Milestones include several opportunities for the public to provide input to semi-finalists, and when public voting on the proposals will take place. 

“Throughout the course of the planning for this permanent statue, the City of Philadelphia and OACCE have been intentional about engaging and creating opportunities for the community to voice their visions, opinions, and perspectives,” said Kelly Lee, Director of the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy. “Our decision to issue an Open Call was prompted by the community’s desire to create more inclusive opportunities for minority and female artists. By commissioning a statue of Harriet Tubman only, the City continues to prioritize the community’s feedback which was collected through the public input survey. We look forward to commissioning a statue on the apron of City Hall that will celebrate Harriet Tubman’s legacy of courage, faith, and community, as well as bring a deep sense of pride to our residents and to all who visit Philadelphia.” 

OACCE will host an optional Artist Informational Meeting on December 14, 2022 for artists or artist teams interested in applying for the Harriet Tubman Statue commission. During this meeting, artists or artist teams can ask questions about the project, the application, and/or the process. All questions that are asked will also be answered in writing and posted on OACCE’s website to provide all interested artists or artist teams with the information.

RSVP for the Zoom Webinar by December 14

Submit any application questions to [email protected] with Subject “Harriet Tubman Application”.

Project Budget: $500,000
Deadline for Submissions-Part 1: JANUARY 26, 2023 @ 5:00 p.m. ET

Download the Call for Artists

Apply to Part 1: Submission of Qualifications by January 26, 2023

Photo of Harriet Tubman courtesy of Benjamin F. Powelson/Smithsonian.

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