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Hicks (Calvin) Photograph Collection
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  • Biographical / Historical
  • Scope and Contents
  • Arrangement
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Preferred Citation
  • Processing Information

  • Contributing Institution: Special Collections & Archives
    Title: Calvin Hicks Photograph Collection
    Identifier/Call Number: TBC.CAH
    Physical Description: 2.5 linear feet
    Date (inclusive): 1982-2001
    Abstract: Calvin Hicks was an African American photographer who lived in Los Angeles from 1968 to his death in 2012. He participated in several exhibit spaces and photography groups dedicated to the area's African American photographers, such as the Black Gallery and the Black Photographers of California. This collection covers the time period from 1982 to 2001. Materials include negatives, contact sheets, prints, slides, correspondence, and ephemera. Hicks' studio portraits and public event coverage feature prominently in this collection.
    Language of Material: English

    Biographical / Historical

    Calvin Hicks was born in West Virginia in 1941. He received a Bachelor of Science in Art Education from West Virginia State College in 1965. In 1968, he moved with his wife, Linda McCormick, and his two daughters to Los Angeles, where he began his 40-year career as a county probation officer. Having learned photography early in life, he continued his own art education in Los Angeles by attending classes at Inner City Cultural Center, Los Angeles Trade Technical College, and Otis Parson Art Institute (Otis College of Art and Design).
    Pursuing photography in his free time, Calvin Hicks became an important local photographer and mentor who co-founded a number of exhibit spaces and photography groups dedicated to local African American photographers, such as the Visionist Gallery in downtown Los Angeles, the Black Gallery in Crenshaw, and the Black Photographers of California. He was a member of the Bunker Hill Arts League and exhibited alongside other notable photographers such as Donald Bernard, Roland Charles, and Willie Middlebrook. He is commonly described as a fine-art photographer, and he captured a variety of subjects, including portraits, jazz festivals, and Venice Beach.
    Hick's images are featured in a number of publications, such as the following: Reflections In Black: A History of Black Photographers, 1840 to Present by Deborah Willis; Typing In the Dark poetry collection by S. Pearl Sharp; and Identity and Affirmation: Post War African American Photography, published by California State University's Institute of Media and Arts. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and ZYZZYVA. A significant exhibit for Hicks and his vision was Life In A Day of Black L.A.: The Way We See, arranged by UCLA's Center for African American Studies and the Black Photographers of Los Angeles, because it focused exclusively on West Coast Black photographers.
    Hicks married his second wife, Joyce Elaine Hicks, in 2006 and retired from the county in 2008. After a long battle with cancer, he died in 2012.

    Scope and Contents

    The Calvin Hicks Photograph Collection consists of more than 1,500 images. Materials include 35 mm negatives (most black-and-white), 120 mm negatives, contact sheets, prints, slides, correspondence, and ephemera. Negatives make up the majority of the collection. Many negatives are paired with their matching contact sheet. Hicks' studio portraits and public events coverage feature prominently in this collection.
    The collection is arranged into seven series: Events (1982-1999), Buildings (1988), Portraits (1989-1999), Fine-Art Photography (1990-1996), Festivals and Musicians (1995-1999), Political Figures (1996—1998), and Correspondence and Ephemera (2001).
    Series I, Events, showcases a range of Hick's documentary photographs from small art exhibits to public reactions in response to significant events. There are over 180 images.
    Series II, Buildings, is a small series that includes images of the Crenshaw Plaza construction as well as the lesser-known home of Calvin Hicks. There are about 50 images.
    Series III, Portraits, is the largest series. It consists of portraits of named or unidentified individuals, groups, families, couples, and weddings. There are over 1,000 images in this series.
    Series IV, Fine-Art Photography, is a smaller series with more artistic renderings of the human body nude and/or in various poses. There are about 100 images.
    Series V, Festivals and Musicians, captures several festivals (mostly jazz) in the Los Angeles area and images of musicians performing or attending events. There are about 250 images.
    Series VI, Political Figures, focuses on two important African American politicians who served in California. The images are of a few events they attended during the 1990s. There are over 100 images.
    Series VII, Correspondence and Ephemera, is the smallest collection. There are only two items in this series.
    Regarding conservation, paper marks, burn marks, and sticking issues were found on a few materials upon arrival. This damage was likely caused by a house fire that had occurred at Calvin Hick's residence. As for identifiers, most materials are marked with an alphanumerical unique identifier on top of a sheet or on the back of a print. The Tom and Ethel Bradley Center created this identification for internal reference.


    Series I: Events, 1982-1999
    Series II: Buildings, 1988
    Series III: Portraits, 1989-1999
    Series IV: Fine-Art Photography, 1990-1996
    Series V: Festivals and Musicians, 1995-1999
    Series VI: Political Figures, 1996-1998
    Series VII: Correspondence and Ephemera, 2001

    Conditions Governing Access

    This collection is open for research use.

    Conditions Governing Use

    Copyright for unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection has not been transferred to California State University, Northridge. Copyright status for other materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

    Preferred Citation

    For information about citing items in this collection consult the appropriate style manual, or see the Citing Archival Materials  guide.

    Processing Information

    Elizabeth Peattie, 2022

    Subjects and Indexing Terms