Parting Words from a Too-Short Life

Ronald Lockett, “Fever Within” (1995) — Author Photo

Artist Ronald Lockett died at the age of 33. I’d never heard of him, or seen any of his work, before happening upon this piece at San Francisco’s de Young Museum. It’s made of found tin, colored pencils and nails on wood, and according to the accompanying text probably depicts a female partner from whom, sadly, he is likely to have contracted AIDS. It’s an arresting piece. “The cross-like composition,” reads the text, “suggests both a window frame — and the sensation of being trapped inside or outside — and the potential of spiritual salvation.”

What caught this viewer even more were some thoughts that Lockett expressed about his own mortality, shortly before he died.

“If it would end today or tomorrow,” he said, “I just try to do the best I can do, keeping my art honest and coming from my heart. It’s like the last few minutes of a basketball game when the clock is ticking and you’ve got to shoot, you just want to nail it like. It means so much to show ’em you can do it.”

Thanks for nailing it, literally, figuratively and emotionally, Ronald Lockett.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: