A pioneer in the history of contemporary American art and sculpture, Melvin Edwards (American, b. 1937) has influenced generations of artistic giants with his innovative formal genius and deep political commitment. This exhibition highlights the African roots of his dynamic, muscular abstraction by placing a small selection of works from the BMA’s world-class collection of African art in dialogue with 16 works that span four decades of Edwards’ career. The artist, who is the great-great-great grandson of a West African blacksmith, has lived, taught, and traveled throughout Africa since the early 1970s, forming relationships with artists, students, and politicians in 16 countries. In doing so, he discovered a relationship between his work and that of African blacksmiths and carvers, past and present. The 20+ objects in this exhibition showcase the formal corroborations Edwards found in Africa and highlight the importance of the African continent in the development of American art. Edwards’ work has been widely exhibited nationally and internationally and is represented in numerous collections at prestigious institutions. In 1993, the Neuberger Museum of Art organized Melvin Edwards Sculpture: A Thirty-Year Retrospective 1963–1993. In 2015, the Nasher Sculpture Center organized a second retrospective, Melvin Edwards: Five Decades. Edwards has had a longstanding commitment to public art, working on projects for public housing and universities since the 1960s.