Donald Locke papers, 1953-2016

Emory University

Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library

Atlanta, GA 30322



Permanent link: http://pid.emory.edu/ark:/25593/t64k0

Collection Stored Off-Site

All or portions of this collection are housed off-site. Materials can still be requested but researchers should expect a delay of up to two business days for retrieval.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Locke, Donald.
Title: Donald Locke papers, 1953-2016
Call Number:Manuscript Collection No. 1440
Extent: 20.75 linear feet (20 boxes)
Abstract:Papers of Guyanese artist Donald Locke consisting of manuscripts, correspondence, subject files, photographs, slides, ephemera, catalogs, and printed material dating from 1953-2016.
Language:Materials entirely in English.

Administrative Information

Restrictions on Access

Special restrictions apply: Collection stored off-site. Researchers must contact the Rose Library in advance to access this collection.

Use copies have not been made for audiovisual material in this collection. Researchers must contact the Rose Library at least two weeks in advance for access to these items. Collection restrictions, copyright limitations, or technical complications may hinder the Rose Library's ability to provide access to audiovisual material.

Researchers must contact the Rose Library in advance for access to unprocessed born digital materials in this collection. Collection restrictions, copyright limitations, or technical complications may hinder the Rose Library's ability to provide access to unprocessed born digital materials.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction.


Gift of Brenda Locke, 2018

Custodial History

Brenda Locke, the widow of Donald Locke, donated the material to the Rose Library Curator of African American Collections, Pellom McDaniels, III, packed the materials at Locke's home and transported them to the Rose Library.


[after identification of item(s)], Donald Locke papers, Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University.

Appraisal Note

Curator of African American Collections, Pellom McDaniels III, acquired the Donald Locke papers as part of the Rose Library's holdings in African American literature and the arts.


Arranged and described at the collection level by Charmaine Bonner, July 2018.

Collection Description

Biographical Note

Donald Cuthbert Locke was born on September 17, 1930, in Stewartville, Guyana. His father, also Donald Locke, was a carpenter and his mother, Ivy Mae (neé Harper), was a primary school teacher. The family moved to Georgetown, Guyana, in 1938. Locke graduated from the Progressive High School in 1946. He began painting in 1947 under the tutelage of Edward Rupert Burrowes in the Working People's Art Class (WPAC) in Georgetown, Guyana. WPAC was the first art institution established in the country. Locke took the class to prepare for an exam to earn a Teacher's Certificate from the Broad Street Government School, which he did in 1950. He also began contributing to WPAC exhibitions in the late 1940s. In 1952 WPAC gave him the First Prize Gold Medal Award for his abstract painting The Happy Family.

He was awarded a British Council scholarship in 1954 to Bath Academy of Art, Corsham, England. He studied panting under William Scott and Bryan Wynter, ceramics under James Tower, and sculpture under Ken Armitage and Bernard Meadows. He earned a Teaching Certificate in the Visuals Arts with Museum and Drama (equivalent to a Bachelor of Arts) in 1957. Locke returned to Georgetown, Guyana, to teach art at Dolphin Government School and at WPAC. He married Leila Locke (neé Chaplin) in 1958. The couple had two sons, Hew and Jonathan, and a daughter, Corinne. In 1959 the Guyanese government awarded Locke a grant to study for a Master's degree in fine arts at Edinburgh University in conjunction with Edinburgh College of Art (Scotland) where he studied painting, pottery, and sculpture. Locke completed his graduate thesis in 1964 and returned to Georgetown, Guyana, to teach as Art Master at Queen's College from 1964-1970.

During the 1970s Locke lived and worked in London, England. He gained recognition for his ceramic work mixed media ceramic work, which often combined ceramics, wood, sometimes fur, carpet or metal. In 1972 exhibited work at the Victoria and Albert Museum (London) in the International Exhibition of Ceramics. He divorced Leila in the late 1970s. Locke moved to the United States in 1979 when he received a Guggenheim Fellowship in sculpture and was appointed as artist-in-residence at Arizona State University (Tempe, Arizona). He married Brenda Locke (neé Stephenson) in 1981. In 1989, Locke temporarily abandoned sculpture in favor of painting. He moved from Arizona to Atlanta, Georgia, in 1990 where he maintained a studio practice while teaching at Georgia State University and the Atlanta College of Art. In 1992, he received a five-year grant for a studio at the Nexus Contemporary Art Center, where he returned to mixed media works and sculpture. He died on December 6, 2010.

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of the papers of Donald Locke from 1953-2016. Material documents Locke's professional life from his first educational degree in 1957 through the end of his career. The papers show Locke's career versatility showcasing his own work as an artist, his writing and art criticism, and his work as a poet. Locke meticulously documented his career through copies of articles and other printed materials that feature his work. Subject files contain information about topics such as Guyana and other artists. Professional papers contain correspondence, certificates, degrees, and contracts. The printed material includes catalogs, books, magazines, and calendars collected by Locke and sometimes featuring his work. Writings consist of drafts of Locke's catalogs and articles but also original drawings, unpublished manuscripts, and poetry. The correspondence gives insight into Locke's professional collaboration with publishers, museums, and other artists. There are photographic media including prints, slides, negatives, and contact sheets present throughout the collection.

Arrangement Note

Arranged by record type.

Selected Search Terms

Topical Terms

Geographic Names

Form/Genre Terms

Container List

Box Folder Content
20 - Audiovisual and born digital materials, 1991-2010

The born digital content of this box includes Donald Locke manuscripts and photographs on compact disks and floppy disks. The audiovisual content of this box includes interviews on audicassette tapes and a DVD titled Donald Locke: Master Works/Recent Works.

1 - Exhibition slides in binders, 1973-1994
4 - Exhibition slides in binders, 1976-1994
3 - Exhibition contact sheets and photographs. 1980-1992
2 - Exhibition slides in binders and loose photographs, 1980-1999
10 - Photographs and negatives, 1953-2002
9 - Slides, 1974-1991
18 - Subject files and professional papers, 1970-1994
16 - Subject files and professional papers, 1976-1996
17 - Subject files and professional papers, 1979-1994
15 - Subject files and professional papers, 1982-1994
14 - Printed materials, 1978-2008
13 - Printed materials, 1990-2009
19 - Printed materials, 1998-2016
8 - Writings, 1981-1990
5 - Writings, 1980-1982
6 - Writings, 1986-2007
7 - Writings, 1992-2009
12 - Writings and professional papers, 1974-2007
11 - Writings, exhibition slides in binders, contact sheets, and negatives, 1974-2000