HEMPSTEAD, NY.- Hofstra University in conjunction with the Hofstra University Museum will dedicate a new sculpture, "Frederick Douglass Circle" on October 29, 2008 at 11:15 a.m. at the Monroe Lecture Center Courtyard, South Campus. The sculpture, designed by artist Vinnie Bagwell, was chosen from five other finalists by a selection committee including President Rabinowitz, Museum Director Beth Levinthal, Provost Herman Berliner, students and Hofstra community members.
"The drive for this sculpture came from a student referendum several years ago encouraging the University to invest in artwork that reflected the diversity of our campus," said President Rabinowitz. "Several individual students also came to speak to me to express their concerns over the statue of Thomas Jefferson on campus and the lack of any on-campus sculpture that celebrated diversity."
In response to these requests a committee was formed to select a sculpture that should be added to the campus to address diversity and the accomplishments of people of color. The committee as part of its year-long process recommended a national competition that produced 26 submissions, resulting in five strong sculptural works by nationally recognized artists whose works were displayed in the Axinn Library for comments by the Hofstra community.
"This singular outdoor sculpture cast in bronze, by the African American artist Vinnie Bagwell, commemorates one of the most prominent figures in African American and United States history, who was a steadfast believer in the equality of all people," said Director of the Hofstra University Museum Beth Levinthal. "Frederick Douglass Circle adds to the scope and significance of the Museum's outdoor sculpture collection while it reaffirms Hofstra's commitment to its diverse campus community."
Students had an instrumental role in the selection of the work and they felt that the Frederick Douglas Circle should be the first sculpture, with the theme of diversity to be placed on the campus. Some of the student comments included:
"A magnificent sculpture that is astonishingly powerful and poignant. I especially enjoy Douglass's seat being a representation of him helping to topple slavery in America."
"Frederick Douglass Circle is a rather powerful piece that shows strength and integrity in his face. The insignia on the back of the chair and the quote that encircles the granite call for the viewer to reflect on their personal struggle to find the strength to over come it."
"It is straightforward and beautiful. It reminds me a bit of the Stature of Liberty, and a wise old teacher."
"This piece is powerful. The weight of the slave's struggle is engraved on his back, a symbolic yet literal detail on this piece."
"…great for a first multi-cultural statue because it is a more pronounced and historical piece. The detail in it is amazing and it is great to see a person of color in a position of power with strength and poise."