Artist, Cultural Planner, and Founder of Rebuild Foundation
Theaster Gates is an artist, musician, and cultural planner. He is president and founder of the Rebuild Foundation, as well as director of arts program development at the University of Chicago. In his performances, installations, and urban interventions, Gates transforms spaces, institutions, traditions, and perceptions.
Gates's training as an urban planner and sculptor, and subsequent time spent studying clay in Japan, has given him a keen awareness of the poetics of production and systems of organization. Playing with these poetic and systematic moments, Gates has assembled gospel choirs, formed temporary unions, and used systems of mass production as a way of underscoring the need that industry has for the body.
When Gates is not making art for museums, he is committed to the restoration of poor black neighborhoods, converting abandoned buildings into cultural spaces that allow not only new cultural moments to happen in unexpected places, but raising the city's expectations of where "placemaking" happens and why.
Gates was a Loeb Fellow at Harvard Graduate School of Design, 2010–11, and received awards from the Joyce Foundation and the Graham Foundation. He has performed and exhibited at the Whitney Biennial and the Armory Show in New York; the Milwaukee Art Museum; Bruno David Gallery and Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts in St. Louis; the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston; Seattle Art Museum; and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.