Theaster Gates Starts Artisan and Craft Workforce Training Program in Chicago

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Today the Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates, operating under the banner of his nonprofit Rebuild Foundation, announced the launch of Dorchester Industries, a self-described “workforce training and apprenticeships initiative for un- or underemployed people across the South Side of Chicago.”

This announcement comes about a year after Gates opened his Stony Island Arts Bank. To celebrate (and fundraise for) both endeavors, the foundation is holding a benefit and auction on November 5 that will feature work by Anselm Kiefer, Eddie Peake, Antony Gormley, and Gates himself.

The auction will also include work from the first group of Dorchester Industries participants. Exemplifying the programs mandate, which pairs participants with artisans as a means to encourage “hands-on opportunities to create and sell new art and design objects,” the items up for sale are handcrafted wooden tables and ceramic dishware created in collaboration with Koichi Ohara, a contemporary Japanese ceramicist.

And, that’s not all. The auction and benefit will also feature a preview of Glenn Ligon’s A Small Band (2015) installation at SIAB. The work, which features Ligon’s signature neon letters spelling out the words “blues, bruise, and blood” (taken from the testimony of Daniel Hamm, a member of the “Harlem Six”) will grace the bank’s lobby and remain on display through January 2017.

In a statement, Gates described the significance Ligon’s work holds for SIAB and the broader African American community at large. He said,

“Glenn and I have known each other for 10 years, and I have always been moved by the combination of sensitivity and power manifested in his work. To me, his art is as much about his use of language, a kind of poetry, as it is about the specific media he uses to convey that poetry, and A Small Band is a perfect example of that approach. While neon is so typically associated with the coarseness of advertising, here Glenn has co-opted that, forcing us to consider powerful words drawn from a travesty of justice. I am tremendously grateful to Glenn for helping us bring this work to Chicago’s South Side communities, for whom these experiences often have such personal resonance. This work sets the bar for the kind of exhibition we will be doing at the Stony Island Arts Bank going forward.”

For those interested in supporting the auction, artwork will be available for bidding on Paddle8, right here

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