Kristen Helberg - Paintings, Murals, and Vinegar Grained Boxes

Kristin Helberg

Harriet Tubman


When I heard about the call for entries for Harriet Tubman tribute show at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum here in the Baltimore Inner Harbor, I decided that I wanted to create a portrait of Ms. Tubman. It is difficult to create an image of such an American Icon and make the person seem real.  I wanted to create a painting that would feel more emotional and personal.  I wanted to show her solitary life.  How she truly was alone as she led slaves north and had to depend on her wits, knowledge of the land and a spirit that would not bend.

As a child, visiting my grandmother in upstate New York, we would often go to Auburn, New York which was where  my grandmother was born and her father had a small dairy.    It is also where Harriet Tubman bought land and built a house and small farm for her parents as she led them north to freedom.  I recall seeing the little run down log cabin .  At that time there was no money to renovate the historical building.  But the image of her little farm and the stories my mother told me about her stayed with me.

Harriet Tubman retired to her farm with her second husband who was 20 years younger than she was and the teenaged girl she adopted.  She lived out her days there and died in Auburn in 1913,

My grandmother would have been 13 when Harriet Tubman died.  I wish I had asked her if she ever met her or saw her around the town of Auburn.

The Reginald Lewis Museum received so many portraits of Ms. Tubman that they chose another painting that I did called Safe House which depicts runaway slaves making their way through the snow on a winter's evening to a Quaker safe house . That show is up until March of 2014 and you can find out more about the museum by visiting their website at .

To find out more about my  Harriet Tubman painting, you can contact me through my website at

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