Melvin Edwards

Brighter Days

Melvin Edwards, "Song of the Broken Chains", 2020

On view from June 2022 to May 2023, Melvin Edwards: Brighter Days showcases six monumental, abstract sculptures by the acclaimed contemporary African American artist Melvin Edwards (b. 1937). This traveling exhibition, first organized by the New York City based nonprofit Public Art Fund for City Hall Park in 2021 constitutes Edwards’ first thematic survey of outdoor sculptures and deCordova’s first outdoor solo exhibition in many years. Brighter Days, a title chosen by the artist, brings forth conversations on Black history and identity, and evokes Edwards’ optimistic view of our shared future.

Brighter Days offers a focused look at Edwards’ accomplishments in large-scale sculpture and public art through five sculptures from 1970 to 1996, and a sixth commissioned in 2020 for Brighter Days. These six works elaborate on his examination of race, labor, and the African Diaspora, and feature his signature use of abstract, representational icons like chains. To the artist, the chain possesses numerous meanings, ranging from its function as a “welded rope” for pulling, its use for bondage and constraints, and its more metaphorical association to linkage and connectivity. By fragmenting and breaking the links, Edwards creates nuanced interpretations of the chain, including its allusions to slavery and violence, as well as liberation and connection. All at once, Brighter Days encourages mindfulness of the past, while inspiring resiliency, overcoming, and connection.

Programming and events to be announced soon.