Chris Edwards, the artist behind the popular Ghost Ship Memorial docked in Emery Bay, has passed away at the age of 32. “He passed peacefully in Hawaii,” noted his mother Sue Perkins in a communication to us.
Details of his passing were not immediately known but Edwards had been living in Hawaii WWOOFing (Willing Workers on Organic Farms). WWOOFing involves volunteering ones time and labor typically on organic farms in exchange for room and board.
Edwards’ last Instagram post on April 29th noted he was in the process of pursuing another WWOOF opportunity. “It’s been great here but it’s time to move on … overall life is nice.” He passed away on June 9th.
Edwards, a Petaluma native, noted fond memories of passing the stretch of I-80 along Emeryville when we interviewed him in 2017. Edwards was aware of the history of the space as a public art gallery for passing motorists including The Red Baron and our legendary mudflat driftwood art.
Edwards was inspired to create the piece after the tragic Ghost Ship Warehouse fire that claimed 36 young lives in East Oakland in 2016.
The piece quickly became beloved by the community inspiring healing, wonder and curiosity. “I live in Emeryville and this memorial is very meaningful to me,” noted one commenter that captured the sentiment of many others.
Edwards devoted significant amounts of his personal time and money into fortifying and repairing the ship that was repeatedly thrashed by the elements. Edwards noted that maintaining and repairing the ship was extremely taxing on him. “It’s very difficult to move a boat that (with rock ballast) weighs almost a half ton, against the waves, alone at 10 p.m. especially when I forget glow sticks for the anchor markers,” he noted in one instagram post alluding to health problems. “Going to try to get out there tomorrow before my day long doc appointment (my health is not so good [at the moment].) Let’s hope it holds for now.”
In April, the anchor that was holding the ship snapped and it washed ashore along frontage road. Edwards, in Hawaii, communicated that he was aware of the situation and that it had been picked up. “Luckily pirates saved it last night. I’ll repair it when i get home from Hawaii.”
Mother Hopes to Preserve Son’s Legacy
“Chris was dedicated to assisting his fellow community members through tough times,” his mother provided. “Art, science, horticulture and advocacy were his life missions and he will be missed by many.” He was described as not only a talented artist, but a scientist and musician who had a scholarship for his baritone saxophone play. Edwards is survived by his mother, his father Mark and two siblings.
Edward’s mother is trying to track down the whereabouts of the installation and help preserve her son’s legacy. “This memorial needs to remain visible to all of the Bay Area.”
Edwards’ mother has started a facebook fundraiser to help pay for repairs of the installation and get it returned to the water. If you have details of the whereabouts of the ship, please contact us and we’ll pass this information along to Chris’s mother.