Melvin Edwards Utonga (1988) and Ready Now Now (1988) on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Edwards began his Lynch Fragment series in 1963 with the relief sculpture Some Bright Morning, a reference to a story in Ralph Ginzburg’s anthology 100 Years of Lynchings (1962). Inspired by the socially engaged practices of modernists such as Julio González (1876–1942) and David Smith (1906–1965), Edwards welds scraps of found metal to create new forms, and the sculptures’ implicit threat of violence derives in part from the chains, nails, and other tools of which they are constructed. He made this work during and immediately following a residency in Zimbabwe. According to the artist, "utonga" is Shona for "the quality of light at sunrise"—a poetic evocation of his first Lynch Fragment.
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