Profile: Raymond Lane Jr.

Raymond S. Lane, Jr., sculptor, created a series of hand-built clay sculptures about Harriet Tubman an Underground Railroad conductor, called “the Moses of the anti-slavery movement” by Cincinnati Enquirer reporter Allen Howard, was first displayed in 2002 in the Children’s Learning Center of the Public Library of Hamilton County’s main building, 800 Vine St. in downtown Cincinnati. The clay works depict scenes in the life of the 19th century Underground Railroad heroine. The exhibits is called “Harriet Tubman’s Experience in the Underground Railroad.” The sculptures currently are displayed at the Harriet Beecher Stowe House in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Raymond Lane’s Harriet Tubman sculptures tell a story of events that are part of the Harriet Tubman legacy. The sculpture series begins with an adult reading the story of Harriet Tubman to a youngster. The remaining sculptures focus on events in Harriet Tubman’s experiences as a conductor on the Underground Railroad. One sculpture depicts Mrs. Tubman with a lantern looking at a young slave hiding under a trap door. Another shows her guiding youngsters by boat, probably through a swamp, terrain typical of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, where Harriet Tubman was born a slave in about 1822, but escaped to freedom in 1849. She returned to rescue family members, including her parents, then over 70 years old. Mrs. Tubman reportedly made 19 trips into the south and guided more than 300 fugitive slaves to freedom. During the Civil War, she volunteered as a nurse, spy, cook and scout for Union soldiers. After the war, she crusaded for women’s rights. When she died in 1913 in Auburn, New York, at age 93, she was buried with full military honors.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that: “I was inspired when I visited Harriet Tubman’s house, (in Auburn, N.Y.)” said Mr. Lane, who further researched the life of Mrs. Tubman here in Ohio. Mr. Lane worked on the sculptures in donated studio space in the basement of Assumption Church here in Walnut Hills.

Raymond S. Lane, Jr. was born in Cincinnati, in the West End, attending St. Joseph’s School and Dyer School in the West End. His family moved to Walnut Hills, where he lived close to the Harriet Beecher Stowe House. As a child growing up In Walnut Hills, Raymond Lane attended Assumption School and Frederick Douglass Elementary School. He later attended the University of Cincinnati, studying art and sculpture. Raised in a family that appreciated art, Raymond Lane was exposed to sculpting from family members, particularly his Uncle Wallace Young. Building upon his family’s roots and his own effort and study, he became a teacher of sculpture. For decades, Mr. Lane worked in many different City of Cincinnati Recreation Centers, teaching sculpture to children, adults, and senior citizens. He continues to teach sculpture to individual students and in classes, including at various Cincinnati Recreation Centers.

Mr. Lane exhibited at the 1996 National Black Arts Festival in Atlanta, Ga. as part of the Olympics celebration. His works have been exhibited at Fifth Third Bank, WCET Gallery, and the Cincinnati Zoo and he has exhibited and sold his works at several United Negro College Fund functions. On permanent display at Northern Kentucky University is his mural, the “Slavery Experience Through the Middle Passage into the Underground Railroad.”

The Harriet Tubman sculpture series has been on display at Cincinnati, Ohio’s Harriet Beecher Stowe House, on permanent loan.

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