Melvin Edwards The Sharp-ville, 1983 Welded steel 20.3 x 19.8 x 21.6 cm 8 x 7 7/8 x 8 1/2 inches Melvin Edwards (b.1937) is a pioneer in the history of contemporary African-American art and sculpture. Edwards is renown for his sculptural series Lynch Fragments, which spans three periods: the early 1960s, when he responded to racial violence in American history; the early 1970s, when his activism concerning the Vietnam War motivated him to return to the series; and from 1978 to the present, when he began honouring individuals, exploring notions of nostalgia, and investigating his personal interest in African culture and artefacts. All unique in their titling, these highly evocative works are also an investigation into Edwards’ African-American identity and reflect his engagement with the history of race, labour, violence, as well as with themes of African diaspora. The soldered steel is symbolic of the industrialised Western nation of his birth. Both the materials - metal objects forged together such as tools, knives, hooks, barbed wire and machine parts - and the titles of the fragments refer to hard labour and the history of brutality against the black body. Each ‘fragment’ is a variation on a unified theme and motif. Simultaneously, each piece gains its individual identity as a result of Edwards’ careful control over the compositional elements as well as his considered selection of the assembled fragments.