photo: Robert Hale
Melvin Edwards
Birthdate: 1937, Houston, Texas


Inspired by the Civil Rights Movement, these small-scale welded metal wall reliefs were developed in three periods: 1963 to 1967, 1973 to 1974, and 1978 to the present. There are now more than 200 pieces in the series. A variety of metal objects including hammer heads, scissors, locks, chains and railroad splices, are employed as the raw materials for these works. They are welded together in compositions that emanate intense visual and structural energy. The sculptures, usually no more that a foot tall, are hung on the wall at eye level. Their directly viewed installation increases the sense of one-on-one confrontation generated between the viewer and the object, creating an Impression that the sculptures are masks or faces. One critic noted "their brutish power conjures the instruments used to subjugate African Americans during centuries of slavery and oppression." Edwards is also known for his large public sculpture, smaller freestanding works, the kinetic "Rockers" series, and works executed in the medium of printmaking. His large-scale works include "Mt. Vernon" and "Homage to Billy Holliday and the Young Ones at Soweto"