Slavery. Universally, the word makes people cringe. The notorious era of the European slave trade not only distorted many cultures in Africa; it also psychologically scarred African-Americans so severely that our present community continues to suffer from these wounds. Its effects are so profound that most people do not want to examine slavery’s roots. Sculptor Vinnie Bagwell has an ample understanding of this reaction.
“People ask why can’t we just get over it [slavery] already? Because we haven’t addressed it,” she told The Atlanta Post. Despite this, to help the process she has chosen to tell the hidden stories of enslaved Africans in New York. Bagwell has created the sculptures for a commemorative installation called the Enslaved Africans’ Rain Garden, a preservation project planned by the city of Yonkers. A work in progress, when completed the Enslaved Africans’ Rain Garden will house images of men, women, and children tenderly sculpted by this home-grown native.