Melvin Edwards: Wire(d) and Chain(ed)
Over the course of his nearly 50-year career, Melvin Edwards has explored materiality to confront social injustice. The title of this exhibition, ‘Wire(d) and Chain(ed)’, alludes to two of the artist's signature industrial media.
Tracing the breadth of the artist’s life and work, the solo presentation showcases Edwards’ 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, honour cultural heroes such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and co-founder of the Négritude movement, Léon-Gontran Damas, memorialise history, and document African and African Diasporic cultures. Edwards’ 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’ 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.