Ed Wilson was a sculptor who discovered art as a child and pushed forward in his career of choice realizing that all paths to earn a living would be marred by racism. The Baltimore native was born on March 28, 1925, and his work was featured in the landmark 1976 traveling exhibition, “Two Centuries of Black American Art.”
Wilson’s father warned him that it would be difficult to be a viable and well-paid artist due to the racial climate of the country at the time. But even while serving in the Army between 1943 and 1946, Wilson remained undeterred, believing racism would be present no matter what career he chose. He studied painting and sculpting at the University of Iowa and earned his M.A. degree from the institution in 1953.
He began teaching at North Carolina Central University and became entrenched in the civil rights movement. The connection with the burgeoning movement influenced much of his work going forward. Because he largely worked via civic commissions, Wilson’s art was displayed not in galleries but in public schools, parks, and college campuses, most notably in his native Baltimore. However, his influence was enough to gain recognition in artists Romare Bearden and Harry Henderson’s 1992 book, A History of African American Artists with both men praising his approach to sculpting.
Among his works is a memorial to “Invisible Man” author Ralph Ellison in an Oklahoma City Park, and the design of the JFK Memorial Park in his adopted hometown of Binghamton, N.Y., where he also worked as a professor and art instructor.
Ed Wilson passed in November 1996.
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