Steve Locke


During his 2016 residency at the Museum, Steve Locke spent many hours in the galleries soaking up the spirit of Isabella Stewart Gardner, and reflecting on how her perspective on collecting might have differed from that of the white male collectors of her times.

In a visit to the Museum archives Steve was particularly interested in “Afro-American Folksongs: A Study in Racial and National Music” published in 1914. The book was a gift to Gardner in 1921 from and Sara and Gerald Murphy, wealthy American expatriates and champions of African-American music.

Locke explored the theme of Isabella as a mother and the possible references in the collection to the loss of her son, including depictions of the Virgin Mary and child. Steve also explored a Gothic Room choir book (the Antiphonary (Proper of Saints) of the Convento della Madonna dell’Arco that was written and signed by Fra Girolamo da Nola and illuminated by the workshop of Giovan Battista Rosa, Naples, around 1601-1615), a list of letters sent to Isabella from Museum patrons, and a list of her friends who were gay, or thought to be. These included Thomas Whittemore, John Singer Sargent, and Eleanora Randolph Sears.

Locke’s stay at the Museum inspired a new project: a series of interviews with women of various cultural and social backgrounds each of whom will discuss the Gardner collection from their own perspective. The result will be a podcast.

In June 2018, Locke was the 12th artist to create a temporary, site-specific work for the Anne H. Fitzpatrick Façade of the Museum. The piece, Three Deliberate Grays for Freddie (A Memorial for Freddie Gray), addressed issues of race and violence in America today. 

In fall 2019, Locke was one of three artists to record an Artist Walk, in which he shared a few of his favorite spaces in the Museum. You can listen to the walk as you explore the galleries right here on our website.

Steve Locke (b. 1963 USA) is a Boston-based artist born in Cleveland, Ohio and raised in Detroit, Michigan. He received a B.S. from Boston University, and a B.F.A. and an M.F.A. from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. In 2001, he attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. He has received grants from The Pollock-Krasner Foundation, The Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, The Art Matters Foundation, and the LEF Foundation Contemporary Work Fund Grant.

His solo exhibition, there is no one left to blame, was curated by Helen Molesworth for the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, and travelled to the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. He is represented by Samsøn in Boston. He has had solo exhibitions with Mendes Wood in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and a solo project at VOLTA5 in Basel, Switzerland. He has had work in group shows in Boston, New York, Pennsylvania, Savannah, Seattle, Sao Paulo, and Beijing. His work has been reviewed in ARTFORUM, Art in America, Art New England, JUXTAPOZ, The Boston Globe, and The New Yorker. He writes the blog, art and everything after. Locke was a visiting associate professor in painting at Yale in 2014 and is currently an Associate Professor at Massachusetts College of Art and Design.