- The Washington Times - Monday, February 23, 2009

SALISBURY, Md. (AP) | Richard Norman became fascinated with Harriet Tubman after learning in a seventh-grade social studies class that she was from the Eastern Shore.

Araminta Ross, better known as Tubman, led runaway slaves to freedom along the Underground Railroad. She was an abolitionist leader, nurse and spy for Union forces in the South.

“I was overcome with pride to know that such a person came from my home,” said the 43-year-old Mr. Norman, a Salisbury resident. “I wanted to learn more about her.”

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Mr. Norman’s family visited Bucktown, where Tubman was born. It has a historical marker erected by the Maryland Civil War Centennial Commission in her honor.

“I couldn’t help but feel that the words on the marker were too brief to do justice to her life,” Mr. Norman said. His fascination with Tubman’s life led him to set a goal of creating a piece of art in her honor.

For the past three years, Mr. Norman has spent hours in his garage creating a life-size sculpture of Tubman from modeling clay. He recently completed the project and joined forces with the new local group Friends of Harriet to raise money for his creation so it can be installed at the new Harriet Tubman National Park in Bucktown.

“The sculpture needs to be cast in bronze,” said Mr. Norman, a graphic artist and screen printer for N. S. Enterprises Inc., in Berlin.

The self-taught Mr. Norman said his art career began “as soon as I could hold a crayon.”

“I was convinced that art could be the means to communicate not only the virtues of this woman I had come to admire, but the inspiration I felt as I considered her life,” he said.

Distracted by other priorities in his life, Mr. Norman delayed the project until his mother, Doris Norman, died of breast cancer nearly three years ago.

“I realized it was time to honor that promise I made several years ago,” he said. “My mother always thought that I could do anything.”

Mr. Norman said he created Tubman’s head first, thinking he would donate the bust to a local museum. But after encouragement from his neighbors, he began working on the armature - the framework of the sculpture - for the body.

“I did everything by hand without an assistant or model,” he said. “I just relied on photographs and my imagination.”

Mr. Norman plans to dedicate his work to his mother, hoping it will bring “inspiration, comfort and consolation” to observers.

“Wherever it may rest, I want it to serve as a lasting tribute to the woman herself,” Mr. Norman said.

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