Today is known as Juneteenth, the day enslaved peoples in Texas learned of their freedom in 1865. The day now commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. On view in the Modern and Contemporary Gallery in the D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts is this sculpture by Melvin Edwards (American, born 1937), “For Dumile: Siyabonga” (1991). At the height of the civil rights movement in the early 1960s, Melvin Edwards began a series of welded steel wall reliefs known as “Lynch Fragments.” Inspired by Ralph Ginzburg's book, “100 years of Lynching,” the sculptures are a protest against racism and oppression. The works also make many connections to African art and culture. Some resemble African masks and others suggest traditional African clothing, sculptures, or agricultural tools. Many have titles derived from African expressions, places, or people. “For Dumile: Siyabonga” is a welded steel construction of found objects and fabricated forms. The assemblage of chain links, scissors, and other objects illuminate human tragedy and heartbreak. Chains, which are often found in Edwards' work, represent shackles, objects of constraint and oppression as well as life lines that link and join human beings together. Learn more about our collections at http://bit.ly/SMCollections.
American, born 1937
“For Dumile: Siyabonga,” 1991
Museum Purchase through Phillips and Gray Funds and the Contemporary Art Fund
A steel sculpture that includes scissors, chains, shackles, and other objects of constraint.]