Melvin Edwards: Crossroads
From September 28, 2019, to January 11, 2020, Baltimore Museum of Art, Maryland will present Crossroads, a solo exhibition of works by Melvin Edwards.
This exhibition explores the cross-cultural connections in the artist’s sculpture from 1980 to the present. Edwards (American, b. 1937) was profoundly influenced by his experience at a major arts festival in Lagos in 1977. Since then his work has increasingly connected to African art, languages, poetry, liberation politics, and philosophy. He has made reciprocal ties to many African countries, such as Nigeria, Ghana, Zimbabwe, and Senegal, where he has maintained a home for nearly 20 years. Through the presentation of 18 works from the artist’s Lynch Fragments series shown alongside a selection of larger sculpture, including the room-size installation, Agricole, Crossroads tells the story of Edwards’ travels, the people he engaged, and the larger social history of the period.
Curated by Christopher Bedford, BMA Dorothy Wagner Wallis Director and Katy Siegel, BMA Senior Programming and Research Curator and Thaw Chair at Stony Brook University.
Melvin Edwards is recognised as a pioneer in contemporary African-American art and sculpture. He is best known for his sculptural series ‘Lynch Fragments’ that spans three periods: the 1960s, when he responded to racial violence; the early 1970s, when the Vietnam War motivated him to return to the series; and from 1978 to the present he began using ‘Lynch Fragments’ as a vehicle to honour individuals, explore nostalgia, and to investigate African culture. This series exemplifies the extraordinary range of expression Edwards achieves by welding together industrial found-objects; including hammers, chains and railroad spikes—into new forms, provoking subjects such as violence, humour and hope.
Edwards’ art career began in southern California with a solo exhibition at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art in 1965. He moved to New York in 1967. Shortly after his arrival, his work was exhibited at the newly created Studio Museum, and in 1970 became the first African-American sculptor to have works presented in a solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum. In 1993 the Neuberger Museum of Art in Purchase, NY, organised the first retrospective in Edwards’ career documenting his thirty-year artistic development.
In 2015 the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas hosted Edwards’ second retrospective, featuring work from the early 1960s to the present titled ‘Five Decades’. This toured to Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey; and Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, Ohio, USA.
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