Jon Onye Lockard was an Ann Arbor artist who specialized in life-drawing and portraiture.
He was born January 25, 1932, on Detroit’s east side, the son of Cecil E. Lockard, from Marianna, Arkansas, and Lillian Jones, from Port Arthur, Mississippi. He graduated from Eastern High School in 1949, Wayne State University in 1953, and the University of Toronto in 1958. He died March 24, 2015 and is buried at Washtenong Memorial Cemetery.
Lockard started teaching at Washtenaw Community College and at the University of Michigan in 1969. He taught life drawing and portraiture for over 40 years at WCC and was appointed an emeritus professor in 2010. He was also a lecturer and a founding faculty member of the Department of Afromerican and African Studies at the University of Michigan (DAAS).
He was a past president and life-long member of the National Conference of Artists, A world-renowned master painter and muralist, Lockard’s art can be found across the University of Michigan campus, where he painted many of the murals in the residence halls’ multicultural lounges, including those in South and West Quad, and the pieces displayed throughout the walls of DAAS.
Some of his other notable pieces include a series of murals at Wayne State University titled “Continuum,” as well as paintings and murals at Central State University and the Charles H. Wright Musuem of African American History. His work was featured in “Walls of Pride” by Robin Dunitz and several additional publications.
He was a co-founder and associate director of The Society for the Study of African Culture and Aesthetics and he served as a Senior Art Advisor for the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial in Washington, D.C.
His life’s philosophy was the West African principle of Sankofa, which means, “You don’t know where you are going, if you don’t know where you’ve been.”
“I was born in the Great Depression. And who thought about being an artist? You thought about surviving,” Lockard said. Even so, Lockard was only 14 when he applied and started an apprenticeship with a local artist in his home of Detroit. The job was quick to abolish any visions of glamour he had about working in the art world. “I was eager and anxious to paint and draw like I saw other people doing, but he had me cleaning the shop and cleaning the brushes and doing all that kind of stuff, which really frustrated me. But as a kid, I didn’t realize that he was preparing me for entrepreneurship of running a studio,” Lockard said. “I worked there for almost three years and it was a great experience — now that it’s over.”
He was a teenager at the start of white flight in Detroit. And he was expected to adapt to many, many names. “I was born a negro. I became colored. I also had an opportunity to live through certain periods of time where I became both an Afro-American and an African-American. “Then I traveled … As I traveled through the country, I finally realized what a human being was,” Lockard said.
He was married to Carolyn Barnett (Detroit)(1), and Leslie Kamil (2). He had three sons John Lockard (Detroit), Jan Coulter (Detroit), Carlton Lockard (Atlanta), and three grandchildren, Karla Lockard (DC); and Jade & Chad Lockard (Atlanta). His brother, Cecil Lockard, lives in Ypsilanti.