By Kay Kipling March 1, 2012

Sanford Biggers (c photo by

Art world sensation Sanford Biggers frequently looks to the past for inspiration for his installation pieces, and that’s the case with his show opening March 30 at the Ringling Museum, which he’s been working on during visits to the Hermitage Artist Retreat. His subject: a series of drawings on repurposed quilts like those used on the historic Underground Railroad as signposts for escaped slaves heading North. "I started considering Harriet Tubman as an astronaut," says Biggers, 41, who’s had exhibitions in venues from the Tate in London to the Whitney in New York and last year won the Hermitage’s prestigious Greenfield Prize. "I’m turning these quilts into star maps."

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