It can be difficult to pin one title on any person. For some, their work defines them, or maybe their relationships. To meet Miguel Edwards is to meet a man of many hats and many talents. Photographer, sculptor, artist, husband, mentor, advocate, entrepreneur, activist, and friend to many.
“I’m a five hats at a time kind of guy,” says Edwards, a frequent contributing photographer to Bend Lifestyle magazine. To be certain, his photography has taken him far. But, his talents as a sculptor have been gaining attention for years. In fact, this past June, Edwards and his wife traveled to Greece where he participated in a three-week sculpture residency.
Before the trip to Greece, Edwards admits to feeling a bit burned out with his photography business. “I just kind of fell out of love with the business,” he admits. “In Greece I took at least 10,000 photos for me, for my wife. I just found my passion for the art again.” A shift in perspective is something Edwards says is powerful for an artist, and something he experienced on this trip.
“A good photographer doesn’t just go and take a photo, but they build and create with light,” Edwards explains. Manipulating light is sort of a constant concept in Edward’s art, whether in photography or sculpture. “Epic lighting can change a room, an event, a sunset. Most people don’t think about lighting much, but if lighting is well-crafted, it’s an intrinsic part of many good experiences, in art and in life.”
A self-described “maker” his entire life, Edwards was born in Idaho, but grew up in New Mexico, living a childhood he recognizes as idyllic in many ways, and not something every child experiences. “I just didn’t hear that I ‘couldn’t’ or ‘shouldn’t’ do things,” Edwards says. “My dad was a nuclear and mechanical engineer, but also an inventor and loom builder and my mom was a weaver. I grew up with the run of acreage, a workshop, a dog, adults who cared and the freedom to create. I gained the confidence to grow into who I was meant to be, and I know that was a gift.”
After high school Edward attended two years at the University of New Mexico. After winning a student exchange to Southern Oregon University, he moved to Ashland, but soon found himself living in Seattle where he planned to finish his degree in film at Evergreen State College. “It was around that time that some of my photography was published in Billboard Magazine and the Seattle Times. At that point, I just didn’t see a need to finish my degree, as I was making a living with what I would have studied,” he reflects.
“I got to Seattle in 1992 and really fell into the Seattle life,” Edwards says. “I was taking photos of bands, worked on films, owned a commercial photography studio, was a bartender, cook, stage manager, tech support for a jewelry store and even taught photography at Bellevue Community College. I was also a founding employee of Elysian Brewing Company and owned Capitol Hill Camping and Surplus for a while.”
While in Seattle, Edwards built a photography career that gained him recognition.
In 2009, while serving on the board for the Center On Contemporary Art (COCA), Edwards created a sculpture for the first COCA Heaven and Earth art show. “I built my sculpture career out of that show,” Edwards states. “I was always interested in sculpting, but it took a while to find my voice.” He describes the 2009 sculpture for the COCA Heaven and Earth show as a “polarity shift,” and a moment where he knew he was a sculptor. Within five months Edwards had major gallery representation in Santa Fe and has shown in galleries ever since.
Anyone who meets Edwards will find he has an innate ability to connect people to resources and build relationships and community. He admits that he feels like he has a good understanding of people and personalities. “My brain just tracks people and their strengths,” Edwards says. 'Bringing people together and encouraging them to embrace their special gifts for the community and greater good is something I can’t not do. It’s like I see a matrix of what everyone needs, what they are good at… it just makes sense.”
“We can inspire each other and support one another,” Edwards says. “I feel that creativity and inspiration are really the antidote to what the human condition has become.”
In January 2018, Edwards and his wife relocated to Bend. They both enjoy the great outdoor opportunities here. And, Edwards jumped right into the community, investing in many ways. He currently serves as a commissioner for the Bend Cultural Tourism Board, is a member of Central Oregon Metal Arts Guild, takes photos for downtown Bend businesses and magazines and is a founding member of the Deschutes River Woods volunteer fire squad with his good friend and glass artist, Jeff Thompson. Edwards and Thompson have some new artistic collaborations in the works.
“I’ve been fortunate working with a lot of wonderful galleries, and I do love to travel. But what is important to me now is being home. I love the community we are building here. I am truly collaborative by nature, I love people, I love to create, and I want to make more pieces for my neighbors,” Edwards states. “Come to my shop, have a beer, let’s go to your house, let’s make the beautiful piece for you and your family that you will love to look at every day, that is ancestral grade and will outlive us. It really is a gift to be able to create for people something that inspires them and adds beauty and meaning to their spaces.”
Miguel Edward’s Art:
Sculptures by Miguel Edwards can be found in galleries around the country, including California and New Mexico. He also has several public art contracts in Seattle, along with two large projects in downtown Bellevue, Washington. In 2018 he was commissioned to build the ceremonial cauldron, entitled “Hope Rising,'' for the 50th Special Olympics in 2018.
Examples of Miguel Edwards Photography can be found within the pages of many local publications, including Bend Lifestyle. He also works closely with local businesses and agencies creating photos for advertising and much more.
“Creativity and inspiration are really the antidote to what the human condition has become.”