About Vinnie Bagwell
Vinnie Bagwell was born in Yonkers, New York, and grew up in the Town of Greenburgh in Westchester County. 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 has the rare ability to cross over between illustration, graphic design, painting and sculpture. Her portraits display immense spirit and verisimilitude, and have souls which grandly speak to viewers. She has powers of observation, and an innate understanding of proportion.
In 2020, after ten years of leading the conception and development of the Enslaved Africans’ Rain Garden, Vinnie Bagwell will complete the urban-heritage public-art project for the City of Yonkers, New York, to commemorate the legacy of the first enslaved Africans to be manumitted by law in the United States, 64 years before the Emancipation Proclamation. She will also complete and install “Sojourner Truth” for the Walkway Over the Hudson” in Poughkeepsie, NY, commissioned by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historical Preservation. She will begin the creation of “Victory…” a 15’ angel to replace the J. Marion Sims on Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street for New York City.
Vinnie Bagwell’s first commission: “The First Lady of Jazz Ella Fitzgerald” was commissioned by the City of Yonkers in 1996. It is the first sculpture of a contemporary African-American woman to be commissioned by a municipality in the United States. In 2018, a 7’ bronze of Hartford educator, “Walter ‘Doc’ Hurley”, commissioned by the State of Connecticut, became the first public artwork of a contemporary African American in the State of Connecticut. A life-sized sculpture of music icon Marvin Gaye was also commissioned by the District of Columbia Department of General Services, for the new Marvin Gaye Recreation Center in NE DC.
In 2012, director Ruben Santiago-Hudson sought Vinnie out to create two bas-reliefs to enhance a 112-year-old piano for August Wilson’s play, “The Piano Lesson” at the Signature Theatre in New York City. At the request of the Alabama Historical Society and the Alabama State Council on the Arts, Vinnie created “Liberté”, a 22” h bronze, to exhibit in the inaugural, year-long “Road to Equality: The 1961 Freedom Rides” exhibition to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Rides at the new Freedom Rides Museum in Montgomery in 2011.
Other commissions include, "The Man in the Arena" ©2015, a bronze three-quarter, life-sized bust of President Theodore Roosevelt, commissioned by the DC Government Department of General Services for the Roosevelt Senior High School in Washington, DC, “Legacies” at Chickasaw Heritage Park, commissioned by the City of Memphis, TN, in 2010, honors the Chickasaw Native Americans, African Americans, and Hispanic Americans, and “Frederick Douglass Circle” ©2008, commissioned by Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY. A 24”-high sculpture of “Frederick Douglass Circle” was Vinnie’s 2004 finalist submission for the Frederick Douglass Circle Public-Art Competition for Central Park NW, in New York City. The Highland Beach Historical Society in Maryland purchased it for the centerpiece for the Frederick Douglass Museum and Cultural Center.
Vinnie co-authored a book titled “A Study of African-American Life in Yonkers From the Turn of the Century” with Harold A. Esannason in 1992. In the mid-90s, many followed her compelling articles about the diversity of Yonkers’ organizations, businesses and cultural events in her weekly column for the Herald Statesman/Gannett Suburban Newspapers. She was also a contributing writer for The Harlem Times.
Vinnie is passionate about her work, and takes responsibility for outreach efforts to engage the community. Her experience includes hosting community forums, historical symposiums, artist talks, and workshops; curating exhibitions; creating web sites and managing social-media platforms to enable community participation and the exchange of ideas worldwide. With a base of nearly 15,000 facebook friends, fans, and followers, twitter, linked-in, and instagram, such activity enables her to engage viewers who may not normally have the opportunity to see the daily creation of sculpture and public art. Vinnie continues to pursue public-art commissions.