Vinnie Bagwell

Artist/Executive Director
Enslaved Africans' Rain Garden, Inc.
Yonkers, New York

A native New Yorker, Vinnie Bagwell, was born in Yonkers, and grew up in the Town of Greenburgh, in Westchester County. An alumna of Morgan State University, she is an untutored artist, and began sculpting in 1993. Vinnie is a powerful storyteller who knows how to incorporate the story in a finely-tuned, visual portrayal of historical events.

Vinnie’s first commission: “The First Lady of Jazz Ella Fitzgerald”–a life-sized bronze–was commissioned by the City of Yonkers in 1996. It is the first public artwork of a contemporary African-American woman to be commissioned by a municipality in the United States. Currently, Vinnie is leading the development of the “Enslaved Africans’ Rain Garden”–an urban-heritage, public-art project for the City of Yonkers to commemorate the legacy of the first enslaved Africans to be manumitted by law in the United States, 64 years before the Emancipation Proclamation.

Last year, Vinnie was commissioned to create “What’s Going On!”, a 7’ bronze of Marvin Gaye for the DC Department of General Services. She was also commissioned to create a 7’ bronze of Hartford educator, the late Walter “Doc” Hurley, by the State of Connecticut, which will become the first public artwork of a contemporary African American in the State of Connecticut.

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. 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 as well as her provocative news stories in the Harlem Times newspaper.

From “Frederick Douglass Circle” (a 7’ bronze for Hofstra University and the 24” centerpiece for the Frederick Douglass Museum and Cultural Center) to “Legacies” honoring African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans (Memphis, TN), the creative genius of Vinnie Bagwell’s sculptures gives voice to their stories and meaningto their legacies.