Cheryl Derricotte

San Francisco, CA (San Francisco County) |  Artist | @cherylderricottestudio

Project Title: Harriet Tubman Monument
Identies/Ideas in Artists Work: Black and indigenous spaces, Women representation, Politics/Activism
Location: Millbrae, CA - Installation in 2022

Most people know Harriet Tubman as a legendary conductor of the Underground Railroad. Stories of her life center on the 300 slaves,  that she brought safely to freedom in the North (New York and Canada) earning her the code name “Moses.”

Yet Harriet Tubman was so much more. This iconic American woman was also a:

• Civil War Veteran, who freed another 730-800 slaves on the Combahee River Raid of the Rice Plantations in South Carolina.

• Nurse, who cured Union Army soldiers of dysentery with her extensive knowledge of roots and herbs

• General Contractor, who owned 32 acres and three structures in Fleming, NY. This property included her home, a place for elderly Black people to live in retirement, and a hospital for Black people to receive medical care.

• Philanthropist, who left her property to the Zion AME Church, to ensure that service to the sick and elderly would continue after she was gone.

Harriet Tubman valued home and understood that place mattered. This work pays homage to Harriet Tubman’s rich legacy though a sculptural gesture of her home. Harriet is standing in the doorway, giving us the physical reminder to not be bound by convention and step into freedom.

How do you reclaim the collective sensory experiences that will tell the story of your community? 

I am helping the community reclaim a story of Black excellence, by creating a 12-ft tall sculpture that will feature an 8-ft tall image of Harriet Tubman. We are literally, physically, elevating the stature of Harriet Tubman and inviting folks to learn more about her life. The installation of the sculpture is a companion to the community’s effort to rename a street in her honor. The San Mateo County NAACP partnered with BART, the developer Republic Urban Properties,, the City of Millbrae to rename the street that runs into BART, “Harriet Tubman Way.”

Who is your audience? How do you imagine your work will inspire change?

My audience is art lovers and art makers. I hope this sculpture will inspire more monuments to great women in history and continue to elevate glass as a sculptural medium.

Is there a call to action you want the reader to do or take? 

I hope readers are inspired to learn more about Harriet Tubman's life and make donations to places that keep her history alive: and

Cheryl Derricotte is a visual artist and her favorite mediums are glass and paper. Originally from Washington, DC, she lives and makes art in San Francisco, CA. Her art has been featured in the New York Times, The Guardian, The San Francisco Chronicle, MerciSF and the San Francisco Business Times. She was awarded the commission to develop a monument to Harriet Tubman at the transit-oriented development Gateway at Millbrae Station, believed to be the first sculptural tribute to the abolitionist in glass.

Additional honors include the Black(Space) Artist Residency; 2020 YBCA100; Villa San Francisco/French Consulate Micro-Residency; Windgate Craft Fellowship at the Vermont Studio Center; the Antenna/Paper Machine Residency (New Orleans);  the San Francisco Individual Artist Commission, the Gardarev Center Fellowship and the Hemera Foundation Tending Space Fellowship for Artists.

Cheryl holds a BA in Urban Affairs (Minor: History), Barnard College, Columbia University; the Master of Regional Planning (MRP), Cornell University and the MFA, California Institute of Integral Studies. She is an active thought leader in the arts. Cheryl serves as the Chief Mindfulness Officer of Crux, a nationwide cooperative of predominantly Black and other underrepresented artists working at the intersection of art and technology through immersive storytelling (AR/VR). She serves as the Professional Development Officer on the Arts & Planning Interest Group of the American Planning Association and she is a member of the Strategic Planning Committee of the San Francisco Center for the Book.