A year ago, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney planned to award a $500,000 no-bid commission for a permanent Harriet Tubman statue to a white artist, Wesley Wofford, who has never won a public commission for a Tubman statue. After sustained agitation, the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy (OACCE) reversed course and issued an Open Call. Wofford was among the 50 artists who responded to the Open Call. The five semi-finalists were announced on March 31, 2023. Wofford didn’t make the cut. He’s now batting 0 for 24 public commissions for Harriet Tubman statues.
All of the semi-finalists—Vinnie Bagwell, Richard Blake, Tanda Francis, Alvin Pettit and Basil Watson—are Black. The public is invited to attend a virtual public input meeting with the artists.
The Zoom webinar will provide an opportunity for the artists “to hear directly from the public before they create initial design proposals for the Harriet Tubman statue. The winning proposal will become a statue that will be located on the northeast apron of City Hall and the first statue of a Black female historical figure in the City’s public art collection. OACCE encourages all Philadelphians to be a part of this historic public art commission for the City by attending this public meeting and making your voice heard.”
The public input meeting will be held on Monday, April 24, 2023 at 5:30pm ET. RSVP for the Zoom webinar here.