Theaster Gates (LF 2011) has been named inaugural winner of the Vera List Center Prize for Art and Politics at the New School. The biennial prize honors an artist who has taken risks to advance social justice.
Gates' "Dorchester Projects" was selected by an international jury for its long-term impact, boldness, and artistic excellence. It will be a platform for extended educational and public programs across the university, including the presentation "Reflections on the Dorchester Projects" at Parsons' Johnson Design Center in fall 2013.
A bold American artist with a global vision, Theaster Gates and his work advance the discourse of political enfranchisement and social inclusion. Gates began the Dorchester Projects in 2006 by transforming two buildings on Chicago's South Side into community gathering spaces with a library, slide archive, performance space, and soul food kitchen. The ongoing work examines urban renewal and social justice through the lens of arts, spirituality, alternative economies, and community engagement.
In the words of jury chair Okwui Enwezor: "Theaster Gates' installation layers a meditation on the present by connecting it to the haunted remains of the American past, making links with narratives of race consciousnesses, the Civil Rights Movements, but ultimately probing how the African American experience is enlivened by ongoing processes of testimony. Entering that installation is like entering a haunted space."