THEASTER GATES, JR.
Theaster Gates, Jr. is director of arts programming and lecturer in the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Chicago. His creative practice encompasses a broad range of topics, including installation, site specificity, appropriation, and master planning. Using art as a tool for social change, he presents communities with new ways of confronting challenging issues by presenting them as invitations to engage difficult information creatively.
As a 2010-2011 Loeb Fellow at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Gates concentrated on cultural development in underserved communities and how relationships between museums and other local cultural institutions can advance cultural activities in communities. His work has recently been shown in the 2010 Whitney Biennial; the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; and the Museum of Contemporary Craft.
Gates' work as an artist, urban planner, and community organizer set the tone for this immersive studio in St. Louis' Hyde Park neighborhood. Students explored the physical, cultural, and spiritual characteristics of the site, focusing on the current condition of the location while learning to embrace the concept of missing elements and their impact on the design process. Emphasis was placed on the importance of a site's history, and how that history impacts the current community.
Working with Gates, master builder John Preus, and Belinda Lee, students began by interviewing Holy Trinity students and other local residents. They then developed a series of design proposals and, ultimately, constructed a small amphitheater in the rear of the property.
ABOUT SOMETHINGNESS: WAYS OF SEEING AND BUILDING
Support for this project was provided by the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts Endowment for Joint Projects with the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts. Through this partnership, the Sam Fox School and the Pulitzer Foundation offer the opportunity for interdisciplinary research and collaboration among students, practicing artists, architects, curators, designers, and other professionals, while furthering community activism and involvement through art, architecture, and design.
For more information about Somethingness: Ways of Seeing and Building, please contact:
Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts
Washington University in St. Louis
Campus Box 1031
One Brookings Drive
St. Louis, MO 63130-4899