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Theaster Gates. Photo: Julian Salinas

In Conversation

Directors’ Cut
Theaster Gates, Adrienne Brown, Jacqueline Stewart

Thursday, April 22, 2021, 8pm EDT

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of Arts + Public Life, program directors Theaster Gates, Adrienne Brown, and Jacqueline Stewart will reflect on a decade of neighborhood-based arts production that has catalyzed ambitious physical transformations and intentional programmatic expansion on Chicago’s South Side. The conversation will be moderated by Tracie Hall, executive director of the American Library Association. Arts + Public Life is an initiative of University of Chicago Arts that provides platforms for artists and arts programming through residencies, arts education, creative entrepreneurship, artist-led programs, and exhibitions to promote a robust, collaborative, and evolving relationship between the University of Chicago and the South Side’s vibrant civic, cultural, and artistic communities. To attend the event, register at uchicago.zoom.us.

Theaster Gates. Photo: Julian Salinas

Lecture

Race to Justice
Theaster Gates

Thursday, April 29, 2021, 8pm EDT

Theaster Gates will speak as part of the University of California Santa Barbara’s lecture series Race to Justice, in which leading activists, creatives, and thinkers confront racism in America with the aim of guiding the country toward racial equality. Gates will draw on his work as an artist, musician, and cultural planner to guide the discussion. The presentation will be followed by a question-and-answer session moderated by UCSB professor of Black studies Jeffrey Stewart. To attend the event, purchase tickets at artsandlectures.ucsb.edu.

Theaster Gates, Gone Are the Days of Shelter and Martyr, 2014 (still) © Theaster Gates

In Conversation

Theaster Gates
Massimiliano Gioni

Thursday, February 25, 2021, 4pm EST

Theaster Gates will be in dialogue with Massimiliano Gioni, artistic director of the New Museum, New York, on the occasion of Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America, an exhibition originally conceived by curator Okwui Enwezor (1963–2019). The show brings together thirty-seven artists who have addressed the concept of mourning, commemoration, and loss as a direct response to the national emergency of racist violence experienced by Black communities across America. This is the first program in a series of conversations highlighting the practices of artists participating in the New Museum exhibition. To attend the online event, register at www.tfaforms.com.

Theaster Gates, Gone Are the Days of Shelter and Martyr, 2014 (still) © Theaster Gates

Photo: John R. Boehm

In Conversation

Theaster Gates
Melissa Chiu

Friday, February 12, 2021, 3pm est

Theaster Gates will speak with Hawai‘i Triennial 2022 curatorial director Melissa Chiu as part of the inaugural Hawai‘i Contemporary Art Summit 2021. The pair will discuss the coalescence of art, craft, architecture, and urban planning in Gates’s artistic practice. The four-day virtual summit, which begins on February 10, brings together renowned keynote speakers, artists, curators, and thinkers from Hawai‘i and around the world for a series of talks, panels, performance-based events, and educational programming focused on art and ideas. To join the talk, register for the summit at hawaiicontemporary.org.

Photo: John R. Boehm

Left: Theaster Gates. Photo: Sara Pooley. Right: Thelma Golden. Photo: Julie Skarratt

In Conversation

Theaster Gates
Thelma Golden

Monday, January 25, 2021, 6:30pm EST

Gagosian and the Studio Museum in Harlem are pleased to present Theaster Gates in conversation with Thelma Golden, director and chief curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York. This event marks the closing of Black Vessel, Gates’s first-ever solo exhibition in New York, which opened to the public on October 10, 2020, at Gagosian, 555 West 24th Street. The speakers will be introduced by Gagosian director Louise Neri. To join, register at eventbrite.com or watch live on Gagosian’s YouTube channel.

Left: Theaster Gates. Photo: Sara Pooley. Right: Thelma Golden. Photo: Julie Skarratt

Photo: courtesy Theaster Gates Studio

Performance

Gray Sound Sessions
Theaster Gates

Friday, July 31, 2020, 7–8pm edt

Theaster Gates and special guests will perform Gates’s sound piece Whoa de Whoa as part of Gray Sound Sessions, a free streaming weekly music-and-sound series featuring concerts, happenings, and experiments with form and platform. The event is put on by the Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry at the University of Chicago. To watch the live performance, visit Theaster Gates’s Instagram.

Photo: courtesy Theaster Gates Studio

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Announcements

Theaster Gates, Black Vessel for a Saint, 2017 © Theaster Gates. Photo: Gene Pittman

Permanent Installation

Theaster Gates
Black Vessel for a Saint

The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis has permanently installed Theaster Gates’s Black Vessel for a Saint (2017) in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. In 2014, St. Laurence Church, located just a few blocks from Theaster Gates’s Chicago studio and considered an architectural beacon in the neighborhood for more than a century, was demolished. Among the objects and materials that Gates collected from the building was a life-size stone statue of St. Laurence, a venerated Roman martyr and the patron saint of librarians and archivists. Gates included the statue in several exhibitions in Europe, revealing new meanings in each location, before placing it in its permanent home in the Sculpture Garden in 2017, within a shrine built from custom-made black bricks.

Theaster Gates, Black Vessel for a Saint, 2017 © Theaster Gates. Photo: Gene Pittman

Photo: Rankin

Award

Theaster Gates
Visions of the City

Theaster Gates was selected as the second recipient of the Visions of the City artist grant in July 2019. Launched by the Obayashi Foundation in 2017, the program awards one research grant every two years to an artist with an abundance of creative ideas and a specific interest in urban development and renewal.

Photo: Rankin

Photo: Sara Polley

Honor

Theaster Gates
Légion d’honneur

Theaster Gates received the Chevalier de l’Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur from the French Ambassador to the United States, Gérard Araud, in 2017.

Photo: Sara Polley

Theaster Gates speaking at the 2020 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland

Award

Theaster Gates
2020 Crystal Award

Theaster Gates received the 2020 Crystal Award for his leadership in creating sustainable communities. Gates was awarded the prize at the January 2020 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, alongside choreographer Jin Xing, actor Deepika Padukon, and artist Lynette Wallworth. The annual award is bestowed to cultural leaders who reflect on the human condition and provide visions of the world that can cut through the limitations of short-term or linear thinking.

Theaster Gates speaking at the 2020 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland

Theaster Gates, america, america, 2019 (detail) © Theaster Gates

Commission

Theaster Gates
Chicago Transit Authority

In April 2019, the Chicago Transit Authority unveiled two new works by Theaster Gates, commissioned for the recently completed 95th/Dan Ryan station, located at the southernmost end of the city’s Red Line. With america, america (2019), a pair of large tapestries made from decommissioned fire hoses, on display in the station’s South Terminal, the artist aims to formally materialize the history of the civil rights struggle in the US and to acknowledge that the work of equity and equality is an ongoing effort carried on not by one person but by all.

Theaster Gates, america, america, 2019 (detail) © Theaster Gates

Photo: Sara Polley

New Representation

Theaster Gates

Gagosian is pleased to announce the representation of Theaster Gates. In a single decade, Gates has incubated compelling new models for legacy building, social transformation, and making art. Encompassing sculpture, painting, ceramics, video, performance, and music, his art both derives from and sustains ambitious urban renewal projects—creating hubs and archives for Black culture, which serve as catalysts for discussions on race, equality, space, and history. Aspects of Gates’s oeuvre suggest the almost shamanic role of worker and artisan, where the power of the unseen is harnessed and manifested in the ordinary and everyday. In his abstract compositions made out of new and used roofing materials—tar, rubber, slate—working-class labor, ritual, and formalism intersect and are imbued with religious potency.

Download the press release in English (PDF) or French (PDF)

Photo: Sara Polley

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Museum Exhibitions

Theaster Gates, Breathing, 2010 (still) © Theaster Gates

On View

Theaster Gates
Breathing

Through May 16, 2021
Pérez Art Museum Miami
www.pamm.org

Theaster Gates’s Breathing (2010) is a video work inspired by the artist’s avid interest in Eastern Buddhism as well as his lifelong personal relationship with traditional gospel music, which constituted a formative aspect of his Baptist upbringing. The singers who appear in the video belong to an experimental choir known as the Black Monks (formerly the Black Monks of Mississippi), which Gates has directed since 2008. The Black Monks merge Black Southern gospel and blues music with the monastic chant traditions of Buddhism. The soothing, beautiful melodies that result from this unique hybrid testify to the potency of Black spiritual musical legacies while alluding to a communal experience that transcends geographic, cultural, and linguistic boundaries.

Theaster Gates, Breathing, 2010 (still) © Theaster Gates

Theaster Gates, Do you hear me calling? Mama Mamama or What Is Black Power?, 2018 (still) © Theaster Gates

On View

Future Histories
Theaster Gates and Cauleen Smith

October 17, 2020–May 23, 2021
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
www.sfmoma.org

Bringing together the work of two interdisciplinary artists, this presentation centers on video projections that each take archival magazine photography as a departure point. Theaster Gates’s Do you hear me calling? Mama Mamama or What Is Black Power? (2018) pays homage to the power of women by exploring the idea of the Black Madonna through a reworking of three decades of images drawn from the archives of the Chicago-based Johnson Publishing Company, publisher of Jet and Ebony magazines. Smith’s Sojourner (2018) culminates with a feminist reimagining of an unpublished photograph taken for Life magazine in 1966.

Theaster Gates, Do you hear me calling? Mama Mamama or What Is Black Power?, 2018 (still) © Theaster Gates

Installation view, Theaster Gates: China Cabinet, Prada Rong Zhai, Shanghai, March 11–May 23, 2021. Artwork © Theaster Gates. Photo: Alessandro Wang

On View

Theaster Gates
China Cabinet

Through May 23, 2021
Prada Rong Zhai, Shanghai
www.prada.com

Theaster Gates: China Cabinet explores the links that exist between Gates’s activity as a ceramist and his work as a visual artist, performer, professor, urban planner, and community activist. Organized with support of Fondazione Prada, the exhibition is conceived as a narrative in three chapters that unfolds across multiple staged settings in which the artist’s role evolves from guest to ghost to host. Following tableaux suggesting an antique Chinese porcelain boutique and a reconstruction of Gates’s potter’s workshop, the story culminates with the artist’s complete occupation of Prada Rong Zhai with artworks displayed as they would be in a private home.

Installation view, Theaster Gates: China Cabinet, Prada Rong Zhai, Shanghai, March 11–May 23, 2021. Artwork © Theaster Gates. Photo: Alessandro Wang

Theaster Gates, Whyte Hole, 2010 © Theaster Gates

On View

Theaster Gates in
Lost and Looking

Through June 5, 2021
Lubeznik Center for the Arts, Michigan City, Indiana
www.lubeznikcenter.org

Considering how place and loss affect us all, the artists included in Lost and Looking confront the reality of our pasts and our futures. Places from our collective and personal histories help define who we are even as they remain fluid in our mind’s eyes. The exhibiting artists consistently explore how true or fictionalized memories can be, and how accurate or inaccurate recorded history truly is. The ever-shifting landscape, filled with false histories, be they personal or historical, drives these artists in their quest for higher meaning. Work by Theaster Gates is included.

Theaster Gates, Whyte Hole, 2010 © Theaster Gates

Theaster Gates, Alls my life I has to fight, 2019 (detail) © Theaster Gates. Photo: Jim Prinz

On View

Theaster Gates in
Promise, Witness, Remembrance

Through June 6, 2021
Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Kentucky
www.promisewitnessremembrance.org

Promise, Witness, Remembrance reflects on the life of Breonna Taylor, her killing by Louisville police in 2020, and the year of protests that followed, both locally and around the world. The group exhibition explores the dualities of this personal, local story and the nation’s reflection on the promise, witness, and remembrance of too many Black lives lost to gun violence. Work by Theaster Gates is included.

Theaster Gates, Alls my life I has to fight, 2019 (detail) © Theaster Gates. Photo: Jim Prinz

Theaster Gates, Gone Are the Days of Shelter and Martyr, 2014 (still) © Theaster Gates

On View

Grief and Grievance
Art and Mourning in America

Through June 6, 2021
New Museum, New York
www.newmuseum.org

Grief and Grievance, originally conceived by curator Okwui Enwezor (1963–2019), is an intergenerational exhibition, bringing together thirty-seven artists working in a variety of mediums who have addressed the concept of mourning, commemoration, and loss as a direct response to the national emergency of racist violence experienced by Black communities across America. The intertwined phenomena of Black grief and a politically orchestrated white grievance are further considered, as each structures and defines contemporary American social and political life. The exhibition comprises works encompassing video, painting, sculpture, installation, photography, sound, and performance made within the last decade, along with several key historical works and a series of new commissions created in response to the concept of the exhibition. Work by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Ellen Gallagher, and Theaster Gates is included.

Theaster Gates, Gone Are the Days of Shelter and Martyr, 2014 (still) © Theaster Gates

Photo: Daniel Limpi/EyeEm/Getty Images, courtesy Tank Shanghai

On View

Theaster Gates
Bad Neon

Through August 29, 2021
Tank Shanghai
tankshanghai.com

In his exhibition Bad Neon, Theaster Gates transforms the unique space of Tank Shanghai—which is housed within decommissioned aviation fuel tanks of a former airport—into a roller-skating rink, complete with neon lights, music, and artworks. Visitors are invited to experience the energy of Gates’s art on skates, including two iceberg-shaped sculptures, Houseberg (gold) and Houseberg (silver), which pay tribute to 1980s Chicago house music and clubs. Over the course of the exhibition, musicians and artists will craft different genres of music, introducing more possibilities to the site.

Photo: Daniel Limpi/EyeEm/Getty Images, courtesy Tank Shanghai

Theaster Gates, Monument in Waiting, 2020, installation view, Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, New York © Theaster Gates. Photo: courtesy GRAY, Chicago/New York

On View

Field of Dreams

Through August 31, 2021
Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, New York
parrishart.org

Field of Dreams activates the Parrish Art Museum’s expansive meadows with sculpture by ten international, multigenerational artists that engages and responds to the museum’s architecture and landscape. Created to extend the galleries outdoors, the exhibition series is part of the Parrish’s new Art in the Meadow initiative that enlivens its 14-acre grounds with artworks, performances, and projections. Work by Theaster Gates, Roy Lichtenstein, and Giuseppe Penone is included.

Theaster Gates, Monument in Waiting, 2020, installation view, Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, New York © Theaster Gates. Photo: courtesy GRAY, Chicago/New York

Ellen Gallagher, Abu Simbel, 2005 © Ellen Gallagher

Closed

Ubuntu
The Harry David Art Collection

September 19, 2020–March 18, 2021
National Museum of Contemporary Art Athens
www.emst.gr

The South African term ubuntu refers to notions of community and a spirit of sharing. As the inaugural exhibition of works from the Harry David Art Collection—which showcases leading artists active in Africa and the diaspora as well as African American artists—Ubuntu introduces five distinct curatorial viewpoints unfolding across five specially designed rooms. Each presents a personal selection of works from the collection chosen by one of five different artists and curators. In this way, the collection functions as a resource that is open to interpretation, with each space enabling artworks to be encountered as a series of unique conversations. Work by Ellen Gallagher, Theaster Gates, Romauld Hazoumè, and Meleko Mokgosi is included.

Ellen Gallagher, Abu Simbel, 2005 © Ellen Gallagher

Photo: Isaac Sutton, courtesy Johnson Publishing Company, LLC. All rights reserved

Closed

Theaster Gates
The Black Image Corporation

January 28–December 5, 2020
Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta
www.spelman.edu

As an ongoing concern, Theaster Gates’s Black Image Archive examines the legacy of the Johnson Publishing Company archive, which contains more than four million images and helped shape the aesthetic and cultural vision of modern African American identity. Founded by John H. Johnson in 1942, the company created Ebony and Jet, two key periodicals for Black American audiences. Gates’s participatory exhibition invites visitors to actively explore the archive, which includes images by Moneta Sleet Jr. and Isaac Sutton, among many others.

Photo: Isaac Sutton, courtesy Johnson Publishing Company, LLC. All rights reserved

Installation view, Theaster Gates: Black Chapel, Haus der Kunst, Munich, October 25, 2019–August 16, 2020. Artwork © Theaster Gates

Closed

Theaster Gates
Black Chapel

October 25, 2019–August 16, 2020
Haus der Kunst, Munich
hausderkunst.de

For the sixth iteration of Haus der Kunst’s Der Öffentlichkeit commission series, Theaster Gates has created the expansive Black Chapel. This multipartite installation directly responds to the architecture of Haus der Kunst’s Middle Hall, exposing it to a complex politically and spiritually charged narrative while rendering it as an inviting social space. Two large pavilions, as well as vitrines, contain sculptures, photographs, and documents. Rotating mirrored sculptures and illuminated panels displaying photographs from the landmark Johnson Publishing Company further animate the space.

Installation view, Theaster Gates: Black Chapel, Haus der Kunst, Munich, October 25, 2019–August 16, 2020. Artwork © Theaster Gates

Installation view, Theaster Gates: Amalgam, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, February 20–May 12, 2019. Artwork © Theaster Gates. Photo: Chris Strong

Closed

Theaster Gates
Amalgam

December 13, 2019–May 3, 2020
Tate Liverpool, England
www.tate.org.uk

In Amalgam Theaster Gates explores social histories of migration and interracial relations by focusing on a specific episode in the American narrative concerning the forced eviction of Black and mixed-race residents from the island of Malaga off the coast of Maine. The artist’s interest in this historical event has given rise to new sculptural, architectural, filmic, and musical perspectives in his oeuvre as he critically examines the history of land ownership and race relations in the northeastern United States. This show has traveled from the Palais de Tokyo in Paris.

Installation view, Theaster Gates: Amalgam, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, February 20–May 12, 2019. Artwork © Theaster Gates. Photo: Chris Strong

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