Tuesday, August 10, 2021, 6pm EDT
Join Theaster Gates and Louise Bernard, founding director of the Museum of the Obama Presidential Center, for a discussion about art and democracy on the occasion of the exhibition The Obama Portraits, on view at the Art Institute of Chicago through August 15, 2021. To attend the online event, register at sales.artic.edu.
Left: Theaster Gates. Photo: Rankin. Right: Louise Bernard
Sculpture Milwaukee 2021
June 25, 2021–Fall 2022
Theaster Gates has been invited to serve as a guest curator for Sculpture Milwaukee, a nonprofit organization transforming downtown Milwaukee’s cultural landscape every year with an outdoor exhibition of sculpture that acts as a catalyst for community engagement, economic development, and creative placemaking. Gates worked closely with cocurator Michelle Grabner to select artists for the 2021 exhibition, entitled there is this We, with further programming to be announced.
Theaster Gates. Photo: Sara Pooley
Vision & Justice Project and Sarah Elizabeth Lewis
Ava DuVernay, Theaster Gates, Franklin Leonard, Wynton Marsalis, Carrie Mae Weems
Thursday, May 6, 2021, 2:30pm EDT
As a central strand of its 2021 programming, Frieze New York will honor the exemplary work of the Vision & Justice Project, which is dedicated to examining the role of art in constructions of citizenship, race, and justice in the United States. Its founder Sarah Elizabeth Lewis, associate professor at Harvard University, will moderate a panel discussion on Black cultural production between musician Wynton Marsalis, director Ava DuVernay, the Black List founder Franklin Leonard, and artists Theaster Gates and Carrie Mae Weems. To attend the event, register at frieze.zoom.us.
Left to right, top to bottom: Sarah Elizabeth Lewis, Ava DuVernay, Franklin Leonard, Theaster Gates, Wynton Marsalis, Carrie Mae Weems
Corinne Bailey Rae
Tuesday, April 27, 2021, 3pm EDT
Join the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art for a conversation between Theaster Gates and Grammy Award-winning musician Corinne Bailey Rae. The London-based singer appears as a key performer in Gates’s two-channel video installation Do you hear me calling? Mama Mamama or What Is Black Power? (2018), one of the featured works in the exhibition Future Histories: Theaster Gates and Cauleen Smith, on view at the museum through May 23. The pair will discuss their collaboration and Gates will screen an excerpt from this piece during the program. To attend the event, register at sfmoma-or.zoom.us.
Theaster Gates, Do you hear me calling? Mama Mamama or What Is Black Power?, 2018 (still) © Theaster Gates
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, Public Notice, 2019 (still) © Theaster Gates. Photo: Chris Strong, courtesy Theaster Gates
Race to Justice
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 urban 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.
Kiesler Prize 2021
Theaster Gates has been awarded the twelfth Frederick Kiesler Prize for Architecture and the Arts by a jury of his peers. The prize is awarded and endowed alternately every two years by the Republic of Austria and the City of Vienna and organized by the Vienna-based Austrian Frederick and Lillian Kiesler Private Foundation. Gates was recognized for his extraordinary achievements in effecting social change, spatial transformation, and empowerment through his creative practice, which spans a range of artistic genres connected with a social agenda and can be easily linked to the late artist/architect Frederick Kiesler’s belief in the unification of the arts with the built environment and the social notion of space.
Theaster Gates’s Dorchester Projects (2006–), Chicago. Artwork © Theaster Gates. Photo: Sara Pooley
American Academy of Arts and Letters
Theaster Gates will be inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters during a virtual award ceremony on May 19, 2021. Founded in 1898, the organization honors the country’s leading visual artists, architects, composers, and writers, and seeks to foster interest in literature, music, and art by administering awards, exhibiting work, funding performances, and purchasing artwork for donation to museums. Election into the American Academy of Arts and Letters is considered the highest form of recognition of artistic merit in the United States, and its 300 members are elected for life.
Theaster Gates, White Line Drawing, 2020 © 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
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.
Theaster Gates. Photo: Rankin
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
Collection of Qiao Zhibing
Through December 19, 2021
Qiao Zhibing, contemporary art collector and founder of Tank Shanghai, has selected works from his private collection by twelve Chinese and international contemporary artists for this exhibition, which explores the inspiration art brings to the public from a visual perspective. Work by Theaster Gates and Thomas Houseago is included.
Installation view, Aesthetics: Collection of Qiao Zhibing, Tank Shanghai, March 19–October 11, 2021. Artwork, left: © Thomas Houseago; center and right: © Theaster Gates. Photo: courtesy Tank Shanghai
A Clay Sermon
Through January 9, 2022
Whitechapel Gallery, London
Surveying two decades of work by Theaster Gates, from his early hand-thrown pots to his large-scale Afro-Mingei sculptures, A Clay Sermon investigates the material and spiritual legacies of clay. Exploring craft, labor, performance, and racial identity, as well as clay’s role in ceremony, ritual, colonialism, and global trade, Gates has made a selection of historical ceramics from private and public collections to exhibit alongside his own work. The exhibition includes a new film by Gates, which takes the form of a sermon on clay, and his most recent body of work: large stoneware vessels installed on plinths of hand-milled wood and stone.
Theaster Gates standing next to his sculpture Vessel #20 (2020). Artwork © Theaster Gates. Photo: Chris Strong
Theaster Gates in
The Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture, and the Sonic Impulse
May 22–September 6, 2021
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond
The Dirty South investigates the aesthetic impulses of early twentieth-century Black culture that have become ubiquitous within the American South. The exhibition chronicles the sonic and visual parallels that have served to shape the contemporary landscape, and looks deeply into the frameworks of landscape, religion, and the Black body—deep meditative repositories of thought and expression. Within the visual arts, assemblage, collage, appropriation, and sonic transference are explored as deeply connected to musical traditions. Work by Theaster Gates is included.
Theaster Gates, Shoe Shine 1, 2009 © Theaster Gates. Photo: courtesy Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Field of Dreams
August 20, 2020–August 31, 2021
Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, New York
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
March 19–August 29, 2021
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 in
Promise, Witness, Remembrance
April 7–June 6, 2021
Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Kentucky
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
Grief and Grievance
Art and Mourning in America
February 17–June 6, 2021
New Museum, New York
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.
Jean-Michel Basquiat, Procession, 1986 © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York
Theaster Gates in
Lost and Looking
January 30–June 5, 2021
Lubeznik Center for the Arts, Michigan City, Indiana
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
November 7, 2020–May 31, 2021
Pérez Art Museum Miami
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 and Cauleen Smith
October 17, 2020–May 23, 2021
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
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
March 11–May 7, 2021
Prada Rong Zhai, Shanghai
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
The Harry David Art Collection
September 19, 2020–March 18, 2021
National Museum of Contemporary Art Athens
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