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Artist spotlight: Jupiter Lockett

Sacramento artist Jupiter Lockett paints on cardboard to represent what it means to be black in America.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — When demonstrations broke out in Sacramento after the death of George Floyd, Jupiter Lockett turned inward to reflect on the life of his mother and the black experience.

"I’m using my art to get my voice out there. I haven’t been in the streets protesting," the Sacramento artist said. "I’m starting to work on some new pieces. I’m inspired now. The blocks are kind of gone, and I feel very creative."

Some of Lockett's recent work is painted on cardboard. He says it represents "the soul of America," and what it means to be black. 

"We get ripped up, beaten, but we get taped back up. We’re loved, we can hold stuff, we get wet, but we dry back up," Lockett said. "I’ve been through a whole lot. We’ve all been through a whole lot, but we’re here. And I can tie that into the black experience, to the soul of the black woman especially - to my mom."

Lockett's mother, Allison Camille died of polymyositis, an inflammatory disease, in January 2019. The 35-year-old artist says his mother and her experiences are at the heart of all the work he produces. 

"I make sure that I always honor her in every piece that I create," Lockett said. "I honor the grace, wisdom, compassion, love, kindness and royalty that she carried herself in and how she treated others. Reminding black people, especially black women, that they are legit royalty. We must respect them."

Lockett's abstract-contemporary work is bold and bright and shows expressionless black figures. 

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"I want [people] to see themselves. That’s why I don’t paint the faces. I don’t do details on the faces," Lockett explained. "I want you to put your face onto this person’s body. Like, could you handle this?"

Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, Lockett moved to Sacramento in 2014. 

He started to pursue art only three years ago. Lockett has had exhibitions in Bulgaria and France and will be featured at B. Sakata Garo in Sacramento in August.

Lockett says he hopes to keep building on his momentum within the Sacramento art scene, which he calls "a black renaissance." In May, his work was featured in Crocker Art Museum's Color Us Hopeful coloring book

"That alone is just easing me into the room," Jupiter said. "Just let us in the room. We can build our own table. We can build our own chairs. Just let us in the room."

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