Cotton Hangup

Melvin E. Edwards (b. 1937) Cotton Hangup, 1966 Welded steel 32 × 30 × 30 in. The Studio Museum in Harlem; gift of Mr. and Mrs. Hans Burkhardt 1991.21

Crafted from repurposed industrial materials, Cotton Hangup reflects Melvin Edwards’s investigations into the dynamics and associations of suspension as he expanded the scale of his art. The title refers to the history of cotton-picking by enslaved peoples and sharecroppers in the United States. Creating the shape of a hanging figure from the materials used to process cotton, Edwards suggests a central connection between the systemic violence inherent in the cotton industry and the practice of lynching.