Artist’s banners highlight Tubman museum

Drivers along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard these days can’t help but notice the gigantic banner across the side of the Tubman African American Museum.

Measuring 48 feet by 14 feet, the banner hung earlier this week reads “Come in curious/Go home colorblind” and features the artwork of Georgia-born artist Rodney White. It’s part of a new campaign to promote the museum and help raise money for the Tubman’s new building on Cherry Street that has not yet opened.

“It went up great,” said Karen Anne Briggs, capital campaign director for the Tubman. “It was a nice surprise to drive in ... and see it. It’s a piece of the grass-roots part of our capital campaign. ... It’s put a new face on it. We’re very excited about it.”

The banner is one of several pieces created by White that will be used in ads in a variety of media, including print and television ads, said Chris Spicer, the museum’s marketing director.

“We’ll switch it up,” she said. “It will be used all the way up to the new building and beyond.”

Other slogans in the campaign include: “Many of our visitors walk out taller” and “Where else can $5 make you rich?”

White, now based in New York, said he was commissioned to produce the artwork after the ad agency he worked for in Atlanta took on the Tubman as a client. His creative director showed White’s work to Tubman officials, who loved it. White held an art show for the Tubman a couple of years ago, which he said was a great boost to his career. “They gave me a show at the museum, which was great,” he said. “You don’t happen upon that sort of exposure and opportunity very often.”

Briggs said the Tubman has been raising its funds privately from individuals and corporations during the current capital campaign and is about halfway toward its goal of $9.5 million.

Despite the national economic downturn, Briggs said donors continue to be generous. She said she’s optimistic that construction could start again on the Cherry Street building within the next year.

“It’s a credit to the Middle Georgia community,” she said. “The campaign is continuing and is strong.”

Construction for the new building was halted in 2005, when construction costs rose higher than original estimates and the capital campaign was well short of money to finish the work. White said he felt honored that his work would be contributing to the museum’s future.

“Obviously, it feels like a pretty amazing accomplishment for an artist,” he said. “The museum is using my work to generate money and awareness. It’s pretty commendable and pretty amazing.”

Information from The Telegraph’s archives was used in this report. To contact reporter Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.