Melvin Edwards (b. 1937) is a pioneer in the history of contemporary African-American art and sculpture. Born in Houston, Texas, Edwards began his art career in southern California with a solo exhibition at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art in 1965. Since then, his work has been widely exhibited and is represented in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; and the Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York.
Edwards is best known 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 using Lynch Fragments as a vehicle to honor individuals, to explore nostalgia, and to investigate his personal interest in African culture. This series exemplifies the extraordinary range of expression Edwards achieves with his method of welding industrial found-objects—including hammers, chains and rail road spikes—into new forms, provoking thoughts of violence, humor and hope.