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Estimate: $ 8,000 - $ 12,000
MELVIN EDWARDS (1937 - ) OWWA Maya.
Welded steel, 2011. 254x178x102 mm; 10x7x4 inches. Signed and titled in steel, verso.
Provenance: the artist; the Organization of Women Writers of Africa (OWWA) (2011); the estate of Dr. Maya Angelou.
Melvin Edwards presented this sculpture to Dr. Angelou in 2011 when she was honored at the twentieth anniversary celebration of the Organization of Women Writers of Africa (OWWA). Co-founded in 1991 by Ghanaian writer Ama Ata Aidoo and Edwards' late wife poet Jayne Cortez (who served as its president), OWWA organized some of the first international black women writers conferences. Angelou had been a mentor and friend to the organization, and Edwards made the piece specifically for her.
In OWWA Maya, Melvin Edwards incorporates many recurring elements in his practice, including horseshoes, chains, and locks. Although primarily chosen for their formal and aesthetic qualities, these materials unfold multiple layers of symbolic significance as they relate to African and African American history and culture, as well as Edwards' autobiography. His use of chains, for example, speaks to the history of slavery and oppression, while simultaneously representing the links between people and cultures. Edwards explains that as an artist, 'I have to be aware of the double and multiple meanings of things.' Of particular importance in the piece is the long, pointed metal instrument, which the artist relates to both Angelou's and OWWA's incisiveness and impact. Description courtesy of Alexander Gray Associates.