Larger Type
Smaller Type

Search Collections

Melvin Edwards

Also Known as: Mel Edwards

Born:
Houston, Texas 1937

Luce Artist Quote

"Identity is the basis from which all art begins." Melvin Edwards, quoted in Gregg, "Poetry Heavy Metal," ARTnews, February 1995


Biography

Melvin Edwards was raised in Houston, Texas. His artistic talent was recognized at an early age, and he was encouraged to study the works of European old masters at the Museum of Fine Arts. He won a football scholarship to the University of California at Los Angeles but rejected a professional athletic career to become an artist. Edwards developed a life-long interest in African art after seeing a Fang sculpture on a teacher's desk one day. "Eye to eye," he wrote, "African art is like a deep conversation with family." His welded sculptures are often inspired by political issues, ranging from civil rights to African-American identity. In 1993 Edwards won the grand prize of the Fuji-Sankei Biennial in Japan, and in 1995 his work was included in the Cairo Biennial.

National Museum of American Art (CD-ROM) (New York and Washington D.C.: MacMillan Digital in cooperation with the National Museum of American Art, 1996)

Additional Biographies

Luce Artist Biography

Melvin Edwards is an African American sculptor who grew up in a segregated Houston community. He graduated from art school in 1965 at the height of the civil rights movement, and began to create works that symbolized African American life because "it seemed logical that . . . I should be able to participate through my work" (Gregg, "Poetry Heavy Metal," ARTnews, February 1995). Edwards is most famous for his Lynch Fragment series, in which he welds together common steel objects to form a "steel life."