Jenkins’ Public Art Portrays Underground Railroad


anneMilford artist Anne Jenkins, of Anne Jenkins Art Gallery, is working on her public art installation to be featured in the Biggs Museum of American Art in Dover, Delaware. This gallery is part of Anne’s Established Professional Grant, which she was awarded this year by the Delaware Division of the Arts (DDA). She was among seventeen Delaware artists to receive DDA grants, three of which were from Milford.

Jenkins is a British citizen and was born and raised in South Africa. She has lived in six European countries and traveled the world extensively before settling in the United States. Anne is a self-taught artist and her acrylics and watercolors can be found in many private collections throughout Europe, Japan, South Africa, Canada, and the United States.

With cities across the Eastern United States recognizing the sesquicentennial anniversary of the Civil War the American Civil War this year, Anne chose to highlight Harriet Tubman’s Underground Railroad and its ties to Delaware. Delaware was often the last stop for fugitive slaves before reaching their freedom in Northern States. A microcosm of the United States in the 1860‘s, the border state Delaware never succeeded from the Union but many Confederate sympathizers could be found, mainly in its Southern districts.

Anne’s art visually follows the path that slaves took from their homeland, through being sold at market and working against their will, to their journey to freedom by the way of the Underground Railroad. Displayed on several colored burlap sacks, scenes of slavery using charcoal & watercolored stark subjects begin the journey of the slave. As the slave follows the Underground Railroad the burlap sack backgrounds and artwork become brighter and more encouraging as they make their way to freedom.

“It has been a very difficult subject to paint,” commented Jenkins. “It is one thing to educate yourself on slavery in the United States through books and television, it is another thing to try and recreate the sheer horror of the inequality that took place.”

Jenkins public art will be featured on Friday, August 2 at the Biggs Museum of American Art in Dover during the First Look Party, which will include artwork from this year’s Delaware Department of the Arts Individual Artist fellows. Individuals can experience Anne’s evolving gallery on the Underground Railroad at her downtown Milford gallery, located at 127 NW Front Street, before the event in August takes place.

Jenkins hopes to educate children through her art gallery on the Underground Railroad. She believes that they will feel the subject more as they experience the historical subject through a multi-medium approach. The gallery will feature works of art created by charcoal, watercolors, acrylics, pastels, canvas and cloth.

“You cannot hide from history but need to face it,” commented Jenkins. “Talking about what happened leads to healing.