Melvin Edwards: Brighter Days
May 4 – November 28, 2021
Public Art Fund, City Hall Park
New York, NY
The institution's press release follows:
For more than 60 years, New York-based artist Melvin Edwards has created seminal sculpture that addresses identity and cultural history grounded by his belief in the civic, social, and aesthetic value of public art. Public Art Fund first showed Edwards’ work in 1991, and this summer will present the first major survey of the artist’s public works at City Hall Park. A series of large-scale sculptures created from 1970 to today will offer an in-depth look at the legacy and impact of Edwards’ practice. The exhibition will explore two key recurring motifs—the chain and rocking chair—which carry deep personal symbolism and speak to African-American culture. Edwards uses chain links in different formal iterations: to suggest oppression, but also connection and linkage between generations and communities, and broken chains to evoke liberation or rupture. The sculptures will resonate with the history of City Hall Park as both an African burial ground and as the site of the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence. Edwards’ practice combines geometric and abstract forms that draw from a breadth of experiences that have shaped him, reflecting his engagement with the history of race, labor, violence, and themes of the African Diaspora, while expanding the formal and conceptual boundaries of contemporary sculpture.
This exhibition is curated by Public Art Fund Curator Daniel S. Palmer