In this relief sculpture from his first “Lynch Fragments” series, Melvin Edwards used twisted, “tormented” steel as an analogy for racial violence in the United States during the 1960s. In these works, he took everyday objects, such as heavy chains, gears, and other machine parts, and fused them to create bold forms resembling human body parts. Nevertheless, the objects also retain the memory of their former use, thereby multiplying the sculptures’ potential meanings. The physical language of these works— the seemingly melted metal testifying to the labor of their production—in dialogue with the evocative titles, creates what appear to be tortured bodies. Edwards thus created poetic metaphors for the historical subjugation of African American bodies. When hung at eye level, the “Lynch Fragments” address the viewer directly, prompting a comparison between the apparently violent energy required to distort steel and the brutality of racial violence.