Tuskegee Airmen Busts by UK Prof/Artist Bobby Scroggins Unveiled
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 2, 2014) — New artwork by Bobby Scroggins, associate professor of art at University of Kentucky School of Art and Visual Studies, celebrates the contributions of two Tuskegee Airmen with ties to the Commonwealth.
A special sculpture unveiling ceremony was held Dec. 7, at the Aviation Museum of Kentucky, honoring two of the most famous Tuskegee Airmen commanding officers before about 100 distinguished guests and museum officials. The bigger-than-life-size bronze portrait busts of General Benjamin O. Davis and Brigadier General Noel F. Parrish were designed and sculpted by Scroggins.
The project was commissioned by The Ron Spriggs Exhibit of Tuskegee Airmen Inc. and sponsored by the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs in Frankfort, Ky. The sculptures are now a part of the museum’s permanent collection and will also be available for traveling exhibits.
General Benjamin Oliver Davis Jr. was born in 1912, in Washington D.C. His father, General Benjamin O. Davis Sr. was also a commanding officer and a Buffalo Soldier. A 1932 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, he served as commander of an infantry company at Fort Benning, Ga.
After graduation from infantry school, Davis assumed duties as professor of military science at Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Ala., where he also earned his pilot’s wings and became the first African-American pilot to solo in the Cadet Program. In 1942, Davis became the commander of the 99th Fighter Squadron, which flew historic missions over North Africa and Sicily during World War II. In 1945, Davis was placed in charge of 477th Bombardment Group stationed at Godman Field, in Kentucky. He continued his illustrious career rising through the ranks and receiving meritorious citations for heroic service during World War II and the Korean War.
Afterwards, Davis served as chief of staff for United Nations Command and U.S. forces in Korea. He was also the commander-in-chief of armed forces serving the Middle East, Southern Asia and North Africa. By the end of his career, he had achieved the rank of three-star general. He died on July 4, 2002.
Brigadier General Noel Francis Parrish was born in 1909, in Versailles, Ky. He received his bachelor's degree from Rice University in 1928. Two years later he enlisted in the U.S. Army as a private and was quickly promoted from the enlisted ranks to receive an appointment as a flying cadet in 1931. After a year of active duty in the U.S. Army Air Corps, Parrish resumed his position as assistant operations officer of the 13th Attack Squadron at Barksdale Field, La.
Parrish became director of training at Tuskegee Flying School in 1941 and was promoted to commanding officer a year later. Then a lieutenant colonel, he became the commander of training for the Tuskegee Army Air Field Command. This made him one of the few white Tuskegee Airmen assigned to the program during the 1941-49 era. He served there for the duration of World War II.
After the war, Parrish served in various high-ranking capacities including air deputy to NATO Defense College in Paris, France. During his illustrious career, he was awarded several distinguished commendations. He died in 1987. The prestigious Brigadier General Noel F. Parrish Award was so-named by The Tuskegee Airmen Inc. due to his efforts to desegregate troops and improve the overall conditions for Black servicemen.
Since arriving at the UK Department of Art (now UK School of Art and Visual Studies) in 1990, Scroggins has exhibited his own work, curated national exhibitions, conducted workshops and given lectures throughout the United States and in parts of Europe. He has served as director-at-large for the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts. The artist has also been on the faculty of the Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts since 1999, and was a founding faculty member of the North West Academy of Arts in Derry, Ireland.
More recently, Scroggins held a solo exhibition at the Sanbao International Ceramic Art Institute in Jingdezhen, Peoples Republic of China in 2012. He is also the creator of the portrait bust of African-American aviatrix, Willa Brown, also a part of the Aviation Museum of Kentucky's permanent collection.
The UK School of Art and Visual Studies in the UK College of Fine Arts is an accredited member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design and offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in the fields of art studio, art history and visual studies and art education.
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