Guest blog written by Brooks Chief Curator Marina Pacini.
Edwin Jeffery was born in Memphis in 1949 and was among the first generation of African Americans to attend the city’s integrated high schools. He enlisted in the Memphis Fire Department in 1973 and retired as a lieutenant in 2001.
Even though his father was a carpenter, Jeffery’s interest in woodcarving wasn’t inspired until 1975 when he was given a book on the craft. Self-taught, he subsequently began carving with chisels and mallets during his down time at the fire station.
Image: Edwin Jeffery's Facebook page
His works are in both low and high relief and often carved out of exotic woods such as the African mahogany used in King Scenes, which includes several iconic scenes from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr's life, including the sanitation workers strike in Memphis.
Jeffery gave this work to the Brooks in 2007.
About the art: Edwin W. Jeffery, Jr., American (active in Memphis), b. 1949, King Scenes, 2007, Acrylic on carved African mahogany, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art; Gift of the Artist, 2007.7 © Edwin W. Jeffery, Jr.