Sylva, North Carolina located in Jackson County, 50 miles southwest of Ashville, deep in the Nantahala National Forest, will become the temporary home of a 9-foot bronze Harriet Tubman sculpture titled The Journey to Freedom. The monument goes on view Monday, September 20 with its official unveiling to the public taking place on Sunday, September 26 at Bridge Park, 76 Railroad Avenue.
The artwork was created by Cashiers, N.C. artist, Wesley Wofford. Cashiers is about 25 miles south of Sylva.
Originally produced for a private commission, overwhelmingly positive response to the finished product on social media led Wofford to decide to share his artist’s copy of this piece with the public. In 2020, went on display across the country including New York and Dallas, and is now booking locations into 2022.
The Journey to Freedom depicts a resolute Tubman, a Black woman known for guiding hundreds of slaves to freedom, confidently leading an enslaved girl on The Underground Railroad with broken shackles at their feet representing slavery being left behind forever. Tubman leans into the wind, striding purposefully, a metaphor for the opposition she faced, her shoulder and chin down, bracing herself against the elements. Her eyes are cut formidably up, anticipating the next part of the journey.
She’s done this before. She’ll do it again. A savior. A hero. An ordinary person achieving the extraordinary.
The Journey to Freedom sculpture will be available for public viewing at Sylva’s Bridge Park through mid-December 2021.
Wofford, interestingly, has won both a Primetime Emmy Award and an Academy Award for his advancements and proficiency with makeup effects. The Emmy came in 2004-2005 in the category of “Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup for a Series, Mini-Series, Movie or Special” for the design and application of prosthetics worn by Geoffrey Rush in “The Life & Death of Peter Sellers.” His Oscar was for “Technical Achievement” in 2005 for his development of a special modified silicone material for makeup appliances used in motion pictures.