Thursday, July 7, 2011

Archives and Publics: "Harriet Rising"

The Archives and Publics series highlights connections between archives and various publics – artists, scholars, genealogists, students, documentary filmmakers, authors, and others – and the ways in which different groups access and use archives, with a focus on AARL's constituents.

Today's post features Harriet Rising, a collaboration between artist Lisa Tuttle and writer and activist Alice Lovelace, part of a large temporary public art project titled Elevate: Art Above Underground, presented by the Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs.  Harriet Rising and other installations open August 26th in downtown Atlanta.

Tuttle contacted the Archives Division, hoping to locate images of Harriet Tubman, which will cover various portions of eight four-sided columns, installed in clusters of four on either side of Pryor Street, along the Upper Alabama pedestrian corridor above Underground Atlanta.  Since some of the images will be enlarged to cover the 8' x 3' columns, she needed high resolution images, which AARL was able to deliver.  

In Tuttle and Lovelace's narrative description of the project, they identify several goals that Harriet Rising will accomplish:

1. Bring renewed attention to Harriet Tubman and her historical importance as an American hero.
2. Draw parallels between the historical significance (Civil War to Civil Rights) of Underground Atlanta and the Underground Railroad.
3. Lifting the visibility of courageous women and organizations working today in the Atlanta community for human rights, particularly those working on behalf of minorities and women, often unrecognized.
4. Add dynamic visual, poetic, educational content to visitors' experiences as they walk along Upper Alabama Street this fall. 

Tuttle and Lovelace will bring attention to a number of individuals, among them Glory Kilanko (Director and CEO of Women Watch Afrika, Inc.), Azadeh N. Shahshahani (National Security/Immigrants' Rights Project Director, ACLU of Georgia and the chair of Refugee Women's Network), Loretta Ross (a founder and the National Coordinator of the SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective) and Ella Ruth Hunnicutt, Minnie Ruffin, Ann Mauney, and Judy "Artemis" Conder of Grandmothers for Peace.  Organizations highlighted include 9 to 5 and WAND.      

Tuttle and Lovelace write:

In the United States, there are many women who embody the spirit of Harriet Tubman, working everyday to make life better for women (and therefore entire families) and working for a better world.  The lives of these women are not as transparent as Tubman's.  They should be.

The Archives Division is pleased to support Lisa Tuttle and Alice Lovelace's work.

Posted by Wesley Chenault, Library Research Associate

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