Instinct for Survival

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Photo: Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio
1990
Chicken wire, wood, industrial sealing compound, enamel, on wood
48 x 68 inches

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Lockett's most frequently used artistic metaphor was white American overculture's like treatment of animals and non-white peoples:

Lockett's most frequently used artistic metaphor was white American overculture's like treatment of animals and non-white peoples:

“When [white] people came [to America], they saw buffalo, and they exploited them, and they just destroyed them, because they could. They had guns; they just shot them down because they just could. They didn't really shoot them down because they had to feed theyselves; they shot them down just because they could It's wrong to destroy anything.”

If works such as Hiroshima stir together history with black experience, the confined deer of the "Traps" series conjoins the fate of the environment (an occasional deer still appears around the Bessemer mills) and the history of African Americans. History becomes a series of figuralisms; the fates of other peoples throughout Western history and the fates of ecosystems are the precursors of African American history. Two of Lockett's brothers, for example, have been "trapped." His younger brother, Junior, has faced incarceration on and off since youth. Another brother, David, joined the army and left Pipe Shop. David became one of the few American ground troops taken prisoner by Iraq during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Instinct for Survival addresses David's disappearance.