This Day In History: March 28th
Sculptor and teacher, Edward Wilson, was born on March 28, 1925, in Baltimore, Maryland. The award-winning artist worked with a variety of materials including bronze, aluminum and red hickory to create more than a dozen prize-worthy sculptures.
Much of his work was influenced by his experiences with segregation and the activism of the Civil Rights Movement. He was also influenced by African-American literature and jazz. Wilson used his past and turned his perspective on those experiences into artwork and sculptures.
Following high school, Wilson was accepted to the University of Iowa but was drafted into the military. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II, and after his discharge in 1946 he started his education under the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act. Wilson went to school to study painting but soon recognized his preference for sculpting. In 1953, he moved to Durham, North Carolina and began teaching at what is now North Carolina Central University.
When Wilson settled in Durham, he took an interest in the Civil Rights Movement which also played an important part in the work he produced. He got involved with local protests and worked with the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). Wilson decided to relocate to Binghamton, New York. He accepted an offer at Harpur College of the State University of New York.
It did not take long for Wilson to work his way to become the chairman of the department of art and art history. He was also commissioned to design the John F. Kennedy Memorial Park in downtown Binghamton. The project was completed in 1969 and was met with great praise. During the same year, he also completed The Board of Directors, which was inspired by his perception of Harlem’s relationship to the rest of New York City.
Many of the pieces Wilson created were commissioned for public spaces. He also sculpted bronze figures of notable African Americans. One of his most popular works is in honor of Ralph Ellison and located in Oklahoma City. In 1975, he made the Portrait of Ralph Ellison and he also made Homage to Ellington. He was well-respected in the art community and in his local Binghamton community. Wilson died on November 26, 1996, in Vestal, New York.