Vinnie Bagwell is creating a public-artwork titled “Legacies” for the City of Memphis, TN, to honor the Chickasaw Native Americans, African Americans and Hispanic Americans. Vinnie is also currently leading the conception and development of “The Enslaved Africans’ Rain Garden”–a multimillion dollar, urban-heritage public-art project to commemorate the legacy of the first enslaved Africans to be manumitted by law in the United States, 76 years before the Emancipation Proclamation. The Alabama Historical Commission and the Alabama State Council on the Arts selected her to participate in a year-long exhibition “Road to Equality: The 1961 Freedom Rides”. “Liberté”, a 22”h bronze, is on exhibition at the new Freedom Rides Museum in Montgomery’s historic Greyhound Bus Station to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Riders.
Born in Yonkers, New York, Vinnie grew up in the Town of Greenburgh in upstate New York. She displayed a remarkable gift for drawing at an early age and developed a passion for painting in high school. A Morgan State University alumna, Vinnie is an untutored artist, and began sculpting in 1993. Vinnie’s portraits display immense spirit and verisimilitude, and have souls which grandly speak for themselves.
Vinnie Bagwell's first public artwork, “The First Lady of Jazz Ella Fitzgerald”, a life-sized sculpture of music-icon and former Yonkers-resident Ella Fitzgerald, was commissioned by the City of Yonkers to enhance the downtown-waterfront district, and was installed in a plaza adjacent to Yonkers Metro North train station in 1996. It is the first sculpture of a contemporary African-American woman to be commissioned by a municipality in the United States.
In 2003, Vinnie Bagwell was a finalist for the Frederick Douglass Circle Public-Art Competition for Central Park NW, in New York City. In 2004, the Highland Beach Historical Society in Maryland commissioned the first edition of the “Frederick Douglass Circle” sculpture as the centerpiece for the Frederick Douglass Museum and Cultural Center. In 2008, Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY, commissioned a 7-foot enlargement of “Frederick Douglass Circle” for the South Campus. Vinnie is passionate about her work, and continues to pursue public art.