Melvin Edwards created his first painted sculptures in 1968 during a summer residency in Minneapolis, MN. After he left the city, under the aegis of the celebrated museum director Martin Friedman, these chromatic works comprised one of the Walker Art Center’s first solo outdoor sculpture exhibitions. Later that same year, Edwards joined the Smokehouse Associates in New York, which was founded by fellow artist and friend William T. Williams. Together with other members of the collective, he painted vivid, abstract murals in Harlem, transforming vacant sites in an effort to revitalize the neighborhood.
Adapting the color and geometry of these projects, Edwards’s primarily monochromatic painted sculptures harness the potential of paint to establish relationships between disparate elements while introducing the unexpected. These large-scale works are in multiple museum collections, including Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR; the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY; and the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT, as well as on display outside Bethune Tower in Harlem, NY.