Currently on view at the Christian-Green Gallery

Melvin Edwards:



September 15, 2022 - December 10, 2022

Curated by Phillip Townsend, Curator of Art



Over the course of his nearly 60-year career, Melvin Edwards (American, 1937) has explored materiality and its resonances, deploying abstraction to confront social injustice. The subtitle of this exhibition, WIRE(D) and CHAIN(ED), alludes to two of Edwards’s signature industrial media, which he values for their evocation of energy, movement, and connection in the African Diaspora and his own life. In wall reliefs, freestanding steel sculpture, and works on paper, the artist presents narratives that engage sociopolitical and personal concerns. 

Tracing the breadth of the artist’s life and work, this exhibition showcases Edwards’s ability to formulate his distinct visual language in both two and three dimensions. The abstract, welded-relief sculptures from his Lynch Fragments series, created from the 1960s to the present, respond to racial violence and systemic oppression in America and abroad, honor cultural heroes such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and co-founder of the Négritude movement, Léon-Gontran Damas, memorialize history, and document African and African Diasporic cultures. Edwards’s only freestanding sculpture on display here, August the Square Fire, exemplifies how he uses formal arrangement and materiality to mirror both personal history and the sociopolitical climate of the time. The rarely seen drawings, which depict chains and steel scraps, reinforce the inseparable connection between idea and medium that lies at the foundation of Edwards’s practice. Whether working in sculpture or on paper, Edwards enables the individual elements of his compositions to retain their original identities even as they provoke new associations. 

Melvin Edwards: WIRE(D) and CHAIN(ED) is curated by Phillip Townsend, Curator of Art at the Art Galleries at Black Studies.