Painter’s talk, entitled “Three Words: Conceptual, Formal, and Abstract,” focuses around the work of artist Melvin Edwards, whose retrospective Five Decades is on view at the Zimmerli through January 10, and begins at 5 p.m. A reception follows at 6 p.m. During the reception, Painter will sign copies of her most recent book, The History of White People, a New York Times bestseller that guides audiences through more than 2000 years of Western civilization, illuminating not only the invention of race but the frequent praise of “whiteness.”
The lecture, reception, and book signing are free and open to the public, but seating is limited and registration is required at bit.ly/LecturePainter. Books will be available for purchase during the reception. This event is co-sponsored by the Office of the Chancellor, Rutgers-New Brunswick.
A Professor of History for more than 40 years, Painter retired from Princeton University in 2005 and returned to college to study painting. She earned a B.F.A. from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers and an M.F.A. from Rhode Island School of Design. She currently lives and works in Newark, and regularly exhibits her paintings at galleries in the region.
As a scholar, Painter has authored seven books, as well as scores of articles and reviews. She frequently explores issues of racial and gender identity and how they have figured into the history of America and the West. Painter received her Ph.D. from Harvard University, where she also was awarded a Centennial Award from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in 2011. Among other honors, she has been a fellow of the Guggenheim Foundation, the Bunting Institute, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Painter was selected as the President of the Southern Historical Association and the Organization of American Historians, and is a recipient of the Brown Publication Prize awarded by the Association of Black Woman Historians.
Melvin Edwards’s career spans crucial periods of upheaval and change in American culture and society, and his socially charged sculptures synthesize a diversity of artistic approaches, ranging from abstraction to minimalism. Over the past five decades, Edwards has produced a remarkable body of work that has not only redefined the modernist tradition of welded sculpture, but powerfully addresses African and American identity and universal ideals such as freedom and individualism.
Melvin Edwards: Five Decades – the first retrospective of his work in more than 20 years – presents a full range of the sculptor’s achievements. The exhibition’s stop at the Zimmerli represents a triumphant return for the artist to New Brunswick: Edwards was a professor at Rutgers from 1972 to 2002, teaching sculpture, drawing, and an introduction to Third World artists. His sculpture Education Is an Open Book (1987) is located on the Livingston Campus as part of the university’s public sculpture collection that spans all campuses.
Melvin Edwards: Five Decades is on view at the Zimmerli Art Museum through January 10, 2016. The exhibition is organized by the Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, and its Associate Curator, Catherine Craft. The exhibition is made possible by the Henry Luce Foundation. Additional major support is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.