Melvin Edwards grew up in Texas and remembers visiting family in the early 1950s when the Crenshaw area when it was mostly car dealerships. Later he would play football for USC and earn a BFA in painting and sculpture. He had his studio in the Crenshaw neighborhood on Van Ness and Vernon where he developed his welding techniques and began merging metals to create narrative abstract objects with a unique aesthetic. His first solo exhibition at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art in 1965 showcased his Lynch Fragments, works that have become a signature body of Edwards’s work.
Throughout Edwards’s career, he has had an interest in chain link as a material and formal object that also tells stories about connection and community. Edwards incorporates chain as an element of his sculptures and sometimes as a unique stand-alone work that visually expresses collective unity, resistance and fortitude to not only endure but thrive. Amplifying many smaller public works by Edwards that incorporate chain as a visual language that are installed around the world including in New York, Ohio, Texas, California, Pennsylvania, as well as internationally in Cuba, Brazil, and Senegal, Column – at over 36 feet tall – is the largest chain work to date. Standing as a symbol of Crenshaw’s artistic legacy of cooperation and innovation, Column in burnished stainless steel also signals the reception and reflection of those aesthetics by the community in which they were generated. The verticality of the chain link represents how our stories build upon another, how we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, and how our collective engagement in our community becomes the very structure of its success.
The Destination Crenshaw project will create new sidewalks, 30,000 new square feet of landscaping, six pocket parks, 800+ trees, and culturally stamped street furniture (including outdoor seating, shade structures, bicycle racks, and wayfinding signage).
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In May 2017, Destination Crenshaw was incorporated as an independent non-profit corporation with the purpose of celebrating the history and culture of Black Los Angeles through a 1.3 mile-long art and cultural experience along the Crenshaw/LAX Line. The Destination Crenshaw project will act as a counterbalance to gentrification, solidifying the Crenshaw neighborhood by supporting legacy businesses and fostering a Black creative economic and cultural hub.
Destination Crenshaw’s mission is to improve the quality of life and revitalize the economy in South Los Angeles through arts and culture.