OOS Sculpture

Out of the Struggles of the Past to a Brilliant Future

1982 / Melvin Edwards / Columbus

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“Out of the Struggles of the Past to a Brilliant Future” by Melvin Edwards features a large abstract metal structure composed in an arch formation including flat pieces of metal and oversized stylized chain links. The piece was Edward’s first large major public art commission, though he is best known for his ongoing series of small-scale reliefs, “Lynch Fragments.” He began the series in the 1960’s as a way to express his concerns about racial violence and the civil rights movement. The series continued as a response to the Vietnam War and has since developed to be a more personal exploration of Edwards’ identity and past. “Lynch Fragments” features amalgamations of brutal tools used for torture, often featuring chains which are strongly associated with captivity and oppression of African American people. “Out of the Struggles of the Past to a Brilliant Future” also features imagery of chains, yet it holds hope for a brighter future. Its title seems to echo the sentiment from the song “Lift Every Voice and Sing” which was adopted by the NAACP as its official song and often called the Black National Anthem. The second verse of the song reads as follows.

“We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from the gloomy past,
‘Til now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.”

Like many other works in his practice, “Out of the Struggles of the Past to a Brilliant Future” reflects Edward’s “engagement with the history of race, labor, and violence, as well as with themes of the African Diaspora.”

Most of Edward’s work is in metal. His background as a metal worker is significant to the stories he tells through his work, with chains being a common motif, and his own ancestry. Edward’s great-great-great grandfather had been a blacksmith in Africa when he was abducted and brought to the United States to work as an enslaved person making metal things on a plantation near Tuskegee. As Edwards states, “you go into your profession because it’s an extension of your family, or you go into it because you’re called to do it, as it turned out, it was both for me.” Melvin Edwards (b.1937) is highly respected as a pioneer in the history of contemporary African-American art and sculpture. His work has been shown nationally and internationally at a variety of major galleries and museums including his 1970 solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, which was the first solo exhibition at the Whitney to feature an African American sculptor.

Visit “Out of the Struggles of the Past to a Brilliant Future” in Mount Vernon Plaza off Atcheson Street.

Location: Mt Vernon Plaze, 1035 Atcheson St

County

: Franklin

Citation

: Melvin Edwards, “Out of the Struggles of the Past to a Brilliant Future,” Ohio Outdoor Sculpture , accessed August 12, 2020, http://oos.sculpturecenter.org/items/show/1428.

Dublin Core

Title

Out of the Struggles of the Past to a Brilliant Future

Description

“Out of the Struggles of the Past to a Brilliant Future” by Melvin Edwards features a large abstract metal structure composed in an arch formation including flat pieces of metal and oversized stylized chain links. The piece was Edward’s first large major public art commission, though he is best known for his ongoing series of small-scale reliefs, “Lynch Fragments.” He began the series in the 1960’s as a way to express his concerns about racial violence and the civil rights movement. The series continued as a response to the Vietnam War and has since developed to be a more personal exploration of Edwards’ identity and past. “Lynch Fragments” features amalgamations of brutal tools used for torture, often featuring chains which are strongly associated with captivity and oppression of African American people. “Out of the Struggles of the Past to a Brilliant Future” also features imagery of chains, yet it holds hope for a brighter future. Its title seems to echo the sentiment from the song “Lift Every Voice and Sing” which was adopted by the NAACP as its official song and often called the Black National Anthem. The second verse of the song reads as follows.

“We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from the gloomy past,
‘Til now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.”

Like many other works in his practice, “Out of the Struggles of the Past to a Brilliant Future” reflects Edward’s “engagement with the history of race, labor, and violence, as well as with themes of the African Diaspora.”

Most of Edward’s work is in metal. His background as a metal worker is significant to the stories he tells through his work, with chains being a common motif, and his own ancestry. Edward’s great-great-great grandfather had been a blacksmith in Africa when he was abducted and brought to the United States to work as an enslaved person making metal things on a plantation near Tuskegee. As Edwards states, “you go into your profession because it’s an extension of your family, or you go into it because you’re called to do it, as it turned out, it was both for me.” Melvin Edwards (b.1937) is highly respected as a pioneer in the history of contemporary African-American art and sculpture. His work has been shown nationally and internationally at a variety of major galleries and museums including his 1970 solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, which was the first solo exhibition at the Whitney to feature an African American sculptor.

Visit “Out of the Struggles of the Past to a Brilliant Future” in Mount Vernon Plaza off Atcheson Street.

Creator

Date

1982

Source

https://www.dispatch.com/article/20160205/ENTERTAINMENT/302059679

https://www.google.com/search?q=lift+every+voice+and+sing&oq=lift+&aqs=chrome.0.69i59j46j0l3j46j0j69i57.1048j0j4&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

https://www.alexandergray.com/series-projects/melvin-edwards3?view=slider#16

Lydie Diakhaté; Melvin Edwards: The Journey of a Sculptor and the Poetics of Relation. Nka 1 November 2018; 2018 (42-43): 264–281. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10757163-7185929

Sculpture Item Type Metadata

Location City

Location County

Location Site

Mt Vernon Plaze

Location Street

1035 Atcheson St

Creation Date

1982