2021-03-30 Steve Locke
From Daniel Dugan
Steve Locke is a New York-based artist whose paintings, drawings, sculptures, and installations live at the intersections of portraiture, identity, and modernism. From the seductive nature of his paintings to the familiar but unreliable record of his photographs, he directs our gaze to help us look critically and unflinchingly at our shared history.
Locke recontextualizes images and marries the contemporary and the historical, showing that the sins of the American past are alive and well and beg to be addressed. Instead of solely memorializing victims or revisiting trauma, he steers the viewer to the source of the violence. He refuses to let us look away from our complicit role but stands beside us as we face it.
His use of seriality and repetition amplifies this dance between memory and fact. The daily portrait, the revisited modernist form, and the recurring photograph all encourage us to explore the feelings conjured by the resultant images as well as the act and meaning behind their methodical making. Locke’s decades of considered practice invite us into his process, offering these personal recordings as a catalyst to discuss their universal truths.
This sincere desire to engage with the public extends outside the studio in Locke’s work with institutions. His projects in cooperation with municipalities, city agencies, museums, historical sites, libraries, and even the US Postal Service harness the expansive power of these civic organizations to create broader connections and bring these critical conversations out into the open.
Locke was born in 1963 in Cleveland, Ohio and raised in Detroit, Michigan. He received his M.F.A. in 2001 from Massachusetts College of Art and Design. In 2020, he was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Solo exhibitions include the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, and Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, among others. He has done projects with ForFreedoms, Kickstarter, the Boston Public Library, and P.S. Satellites/Prospect IV in New Orleans and has had gallery exhibitions with yours mine & ours, Samsøñ, LaMontagne Gallery, Gallery Kayafas, and Mendes Wood. He attended residencies with the City of Boston (2018), the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (2016), The MacDowell Colony (2015), and Skowhegan (2002). Locke is a recipient of grants from Pollock-Krasner Foundation, Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, and Art Matters Foundation. His work has been reviewed in Artforum, Art in America, The Boston Globe, and The New Yorker, and his writing has been published in Artforum as well as in museum catalogues. Locke is a Professor of Fine Arts at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY.