Public Art Fund and Melvin Edwards have decided to postpone the opening of Melvin Edwards: Brighter Days to May 2021 given recurring closures of City Hall Park. Initially scheduled to open in City Hall Park in June 2020, the show was first shifted to July 2020 due to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. In July, Public Art Fund and Melvin Edwards announced a second postponement to October 1, in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and in response to protesters’ occupation of City Hall. In a statement released at the time, Public Art Fund said, “We remain committed to presenting the exhibition when the time is right… however, at this pivotal moment at City Hall Park, it is of paramount importance to us that the collective voices speaking out and taking action against systemic racism remain at center stage.” The exhibition’s exact opening date will be confirmed in early 2021; Brighter Days comes 30 years after Public Art Fund first worked with Edwards in 1991 to present Tomorrow’s Wind at Doris C. Freedman Plaza, Central Park.
About the Exhibition
For more than 60 years, New York-based artist Melvin Edwards has created seminal sculpture that addresses identity and cultural history grounded by his belief in the civic, social, and aesthetic value of public art. Public Art Fund first showed Edwards’ work in 1991, and this summer will present the first major survey of the artist’s public works at City Hall Park. A series of large-scale sculptures created from 1970 to today will offer an in-depth look at the legacy and impact of Edwards’ practice. The exhibition will explore two key recurring motifs—the chain and rocking chair—which carry deep personal symbolism and speak to African-American culture. Edwards uses chain links in different formal iterations: to suggest oppression, but also connection and linkage between generations and communities, and broken chains to evoke liberation or rupture. The sculptures will resonate with the history of City Hall Park as both an African burial ground and as the site of the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence. Edwards’ practice combines geometric and abstract forms that draw from a breadth of experiences that have shaped him, reflecting his engagement with the history of race, labor, violence, and themes of the African Diaspora, while expanding the formal and conceptual boundaries of contemporary sculpture.
This exhibition is curated by Public Art Fund Curator Daniel S. Palmer