Fever Within: The Art of Ronald Lockett

Edited by Bernard L. Herman
160 pages
75 color illustrations
64 color plates
The University of North Carolina Press

    Ronald Lockett (1965–1998) stands out among southern artists in the late twentieth century. Raised in the African American industrial city of Bessemer, Alabama, Lockett explored a range of recurring themes through his art: faith, the endless cycle of life, environmental degradation, historical events, the sweetness of idealized love, mourning, human emotion, and personal struggle.

    By the time Lockett died at age thirty-two, he had created an estimated four hundred works that document an extraordinary artistic evolution. This book offers the first in-depth critical treatment of Lockett’s art, alongside sixty full-color plates of the artist’s paintings and assemblages, shedding light on Lockett’s career and work. By placing Lockett at its center, contributors contextualize what might be best understood as the Birmingham-Bessemer School of art, which includes Thornton Dial, Joe Minter, and Lonnie Holley, and its turbulent social, economic, and personal contexts. While broadening our understanding of southern contemporary art, Fever Within uncovers how one artist’s work has become emblematic of the frustrated, yearning, unredeemed promises, and family and community resilience expressed by a generation of African American artists at the close of the twentieth century.

    Contributors include Paul Arnett, Sharon Patricia Holland, Katherine L. Jentleson, Thomas J. Lax, and Colin Rhodes.

    About the Author
    Bernard L. Herman is George B. Tindall Distinguished Professor of Southern Studies and Folklore at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is author or editor of several books, including Thornton Dial: Thoughts on Paper.

    "Fever Within illuminates our understanding of Ronald Lockett's art and the many ways it engages us as viewers. This book will stand as a significant contribution to discussions of contemporary African American vernacular art, and it creates the foundation for future studies of Lockett and his work."
    —Charles Russell, Rutgers University
    "Ronald Lockett harnesses the world with a deft, visionary grasp and under his elegiac eye offers up an unmatched vision of postindustrial splendor. Bernard L. Herman has sagaciously piloted us into Lockett's museum of lost and found and, as a result, expands our view so as to encompass these articulations from the least privileged yet culturally fertile places."
    —Richard J. Powell, Duke University