The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has endorsed Theaster Gates’s (LF '11) vision of the arts as community change agent with a $3.5 million gift to create the Place Project. The Project builds on work Gates has led in Chicago, Omaha and St. Louis through the University of Chicago’s Arts and Public Life initiative. Focusing on additional rustbelt cities, the Project will cultivate local leadership and convene artists, designers, urban planners and policy experts who can tailor locale-specific community strengthening approaches and develop best practices that can be used by cities across the country.
The Project’s new home will be the Place Lab, situated close to the university’s Arts Incubator, created by Gates to host artist residencies, arts education, arts projects and other community-based activities. The Place Lab will recruit research fellows to complete case studies of each project location, and scholars and practitioners to share their expertise.
Says Gates, “From my artistic practice, I learned early on that art has the capacity to change people's perceptions—not only about a concept or an idea, but also about a place. What I've tried to do is leverage my understanding of art and how people view art to help them reimagine what can happen in poor neighborhoods.”
Read more in DNAinfo Chicago.
Photo of Gates at the Dorchester Project via Facebook.