Edward James Martin
(1931 – 2013)
Born September 13, 1931 in Camden, Alabama. Edward Martin received a B.S. degree from Tuskegee University, Alabama in Industrial Arts and Design with a concentration in furniture building, and a M.A. from Bradley University, Illinois, and studied Fine Art at NYU. Martin served in the US Army from 1953 to 1958. After leaving the army, Martin worked primarily as a furniture builder on a master-craftsman level. In 1959, he was the first African-American teacher hired by the Freeport School District on Long Island, where he taught industrial arts for 41 years. In the late 1990s, Martin spent summers in Pietrasanta, Italy, where he studied with master marble sculptor Rino Giannini. This experience directed Martin toward creating marble and wood masks in addition to his characteristic abstract geometric works. Edward Martin created a commissioned sculpture – a Vermont white-marble piece entitled “Towel and Basin” which now on permanent display in the rotunda of the United Church of Christ headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio.
Artist statement: “Most of my later work is constructed in pieces of Georgia Marble (Etowah pink). Working in this type of marble, one has to pay strict attention to creating a sense of strength and at the same time embrace the aesthetic justification of the piece. Each of my pieces of sculpture is individual. I seem to feel more comfortable working with geometric shapes. The impact of each sculpture functions more directly as a commitment to the creative process.”
Martin was the recipient of countless awards and prizes. He exhibited at the Washington Square Outdoor Art Show in Greenwich Village for over 35 years and won many First-Place ribbons. Martin was a member of the Woodstock Artists Association and Museum. His sculptures are in numerous collections, including the Larry and Brenda Thompson Collection of African American Art.