Sculptor shapes her artistic vision in bronze


March 06, 2002|By Heather Tepe | Heather Tepe,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

FOR WEST Columbia artist Vinnie Bagwell, finding inspiration to create her sculptures is easy. Locating the funds to finish them in bronze is the hard part. Bagwell is the featured artist this month in an exhibit at Artists' Gallery in the American City Building.

"I want to make sculptures of black people just being people like anybody else, being parents, being lovers, being friends," Bagwell said. "Often my inspiration comes from real life, sometimes from photographs and sometimes it just comes from my head."

Bagwell describes herself as an intuitive artist who showed a gift for drawing at an early age. She developed a passion for painting in high school and later found work as a graphic designer.

"One day, it occurred to me that I hadn't been painting, and I decided to shift mediums. I decided to try sculpture and realized that, ideally, I wanted to cast in bronze," Bagwell said.

She prefers to work in bronze because it captures the nuance in her work. But casting a sculpture in bronze is a labor-intensive process that can be expensive, Bagwell said. It cost nearly $5,000 to cast her piece The Sunlight in My Father's Eyes in bronze.

Bagwell explained that after she completes a sculpture in clay, a rubber mold is made by pouring a substance similar to that used for tires over the sculpture, letting it set and removing it from the sculpture. In the next stage, wax is poured into the rubber mold.

"In the wax phase, you perfect the sculpture," Bagwell said. "The wax allows you to carve fine details. Then another mold is made using a ceramic compound. Ultimately, the wax is melted out of that mold and hot bronze is poured into it. The mold is broken and the sculpture is oxidized.

"I think when most people see my work, they see the apparent talent. But they don't understand the process of casting a sculpture, what's entailed in creating the pieces, marketing and selling them," Bagwell said.

Bagwell's work will be on display at Artists' Gallery through March 29. A free reception will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday. Artists' Gallery is in the American City Building, 10227 Wincopin Circle.

Information: 410-740-8249.

Tribute to women

In celebration of Women's History Month, the Literary Arts Circle of the African Art Museum will honor Columbia Association President Maggie Brown and author Simone Schwarz-Bart on Sunday in a program designed to "Praise All Women."

"March is Women's History Month. While we are praising all women, we have the opportunity to honor only two, Maggie Brown and Simone Schwarz-Bart," said Doris Ligon, founder of the African Art Museum of Maryland.

Brown is expected to receive an award for outstanding community service at the event. Sandrah Monthieux Pelage, co-publisher of Schwarz-Bart's book In Praise of Black Women: Ancient African Queens, will be on hand to give a slide presentation and talk about Schwarz-Bart's work.

"The book is absolutely divine," Ligon said. "It talks about the times in which various women on the African continent have become leaders for their people. These were strong and powerful women who could lead their people into a better quality of life."

The program is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. in the ballroom of Historic Oakland, 5430 Vantage Point Road in Columbia. The event is free, but reservations are required.

Information: 410-730-7105.

Poetry contest

The Howard County Public Library is sponsoring a poetry contest for county residents in grades 6 to 8 and 9 to 12. Winners will be invited to read their original poems at the central library April 24 and will be eligible for cash prizes or gift certificates.

The deadline for submitting entries is March 14. Details and entry forms are available at all Howard County libraries and at www.HC

Keys for reading

Children from 14 Howard County public elementary schools will participate in the sixth "Keys for Reading" program, sponsored by the Frederick Keys baseball organization, BP Solar and Sylvan Learning Centers.

Participating pupils will receive a "Keys for Reading" bookmark. The children are required to read four books and have their parents sign their bookmark to complete the program. Those who meet these requirements will be honored with a free ticket and an on-field parade before the Keys' April 25 game against the Potomac Cannons.

Flea market

The Florence Bain Senior Center Council will hold a flea market from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 6. The sale will include decorator items, new items from craftsmen and artisans, and nearly new items.

Tables cost $18. The event is open to individuals, groups and vendors.

Information: 410-313-7213.

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