IV

Narratives of African American Art and Identity

Melvin Edwards

Sippi Eye, c. 1988

(From The Lynch Fragment Series)

Steel and cast iron

13" x 13"


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Sippi Eye

Melvin Edwards's works in steel often address political issues of historic and/or contemporary concern for the African American community. Edwards describes the Lynch Fragment Series as a "private conversation," which, unlike his public works, is meant to create a "one-on-one" experience between object and viewer. This series, begun in 1963, speaks to the threat of lynching as a powerful controlling tool of a racist society. Like other works in the series, Edwards uses welded steel forms that evoke the shapes of farm implements, weapons, and shackles of bondage to powerfully remind us of the violence and horrors of lynching, which survived as common practice in the country until almost the middle of this century. "I decided that the forms should hang on the wall," Edwards explained, "because hanging was symbolic." Each piece is individually named, and each seeks to invoke both historical memory of this vigilante practice and the malignancy and power of lynching as a constant threat for so long in black Americans' experience.  A. L. C.

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