Virtual Visit: Object Stories - Sojourner Truth
Discover the story behind Ruth Inge Hardison’s NYS Harlem Art Collection sculpture, Sojourner Truth
Sculpted in 1968
Sculpted by Ruth Inge Hardison
Honors Sojourner Truth
Bronze Cast Replica
Artist Ruth Inge Hardison.
Sojourner Truth. Image courtesy of the New York State Library, Manuscript and Special Collections.
Sojourner Truth, 1968 by Ruth Inge Hardison.
In 1990, NY Governor Mario Cuomo presented Nelson Mandela the original sculpture.
Close up of Sojourner Truth, 1968 by Ruth Inge Hardison.
When did Hardison begin to make clay sculptures?
Before working as an artist, Hardison was an actress and had a brief Broadway career. While performing the play What a Life, she began making clay sculptures during downtime in between acts.
Which world leader was presented with the Sojourner Truth sculpture?
Governor Mario Cuomo presented newly freed Nelson Mandela with Hardison’s Sojourner Truth sculpture in 1990 on behalf of the people of New York.
What was the name of Hardison’s famous collection of busts from the early 1960s?
Hardison sculpted a group of busts for a collection called “Negro Giants of History” which featured Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King Jr., George Washington Carver, and Sojourner Truth.
When was the sculpture acquired by the New York State Harlem Art Collection?
Hardison submitted the 25-inch tall bonded bronze replica sculpture of Sojourner Truth to the New York State Harlem Art Collection in 1976.
What academy was Hardison a founding member of?
Hardison was a founding member of The Black Academy of Arts and Letters in 1969, which promoted Black artists accomplishments. She was the only female member for a long time.
Who was Sojourner Truth?
Sojourner Truth, originally named Isabella Baumfree, was born enslaved in Hurley, New York. She escaped from her enslaver in 1826 and changed her name to Sojourner Truth in 1843. She became an itinerant preacher and advocated for abolition, and civil and women’s rights. She is known for her famous speech “Ain’t I a Woman?” given in Akron, Ohio in 1851.
How did Hardison produce and sell her artwork?
Hardison often made her sculptures from clay and had them mass-produced in order to make them affordable to mass audiences. In 1961, she wrote to a friend and said, "I feel that everybody should have the pleasure of owning a work of art."