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Artist
Vernon Edwards
Title
Frederick Douglass (1818-1895)
Date
1982
Medium
mahogany
Dimensions
10 3/4 × 3 5/8 × 2 13/16 inches (27.3 × 9.2 × 7.1 cm)
Tags
Sculpture
Credit Line
Museum purchase.
Accession Number
1997.22.2
Vernon Edwards was one of a small number of accomplished African American woodcarvers working in the Savannah area in the late twentieth century. He followed in the footsteps of self-taught artist Ulysses Davis and, like him, made valuable contributions to folk art in the region. By the 1980s, Edwards was pursuing his carving to a greater extent, and his freestanding and relief portrait sculptures of important figures in black history are reminiscent of Ulysses Davis’ work he had seen and admired in Davis’ Savannah barbershop. Though less refined, Edwards’s works have an undeniable emotional power that rises from a fierce sense of pride in his heritage.

In this sculpture, Edwards pays homage to Frederick Douglass in his signature blocky woodworking style. Douglass was an escaped slave-turned-noted abolitionist, statesman, and editor.