Theaster Gates: Dorchester Projects from Smart Museum of Art on Vimeo.

Rosemary Reed (author of “The Threads of Time”) shared the following release (see below). Theaster Gates is someone to watch when it comes to creating community space for creativity and knowledge.
Theaster Gates has been named the inaugural winner of the Vera List Center Prize for Art and Politics. The biennial prize honors an artist who has taken risks to advance social justice. It is awarded on the basis of a particular project’s long-term impact, boldness, and artistic excellence. Selected by an international jury, Gates’ The Dorchester Projects will provide a platform for extended educational and public programs across the university, including the presentation Reflections on the Dorchester Projects at Parsons’ Sheila C. Johnson Design Center in fall 2013.

A bold American artist with a global vision, Theaster Gates and his work expand and problematize 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 piece 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’ project of historical reclamation, interrogation of archival legacies, and social construction of memory and cultural agency has it all tied together. The Dorchester Projects is extraordinary. The 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.”

About the Vera List Center Prize for Art and Politics
In celebration of its 20th anniversary, the Vera List Center is launching a biennial prize. International in scope, the Vera List Center Prize for Art and Politics honors outstanding achievements in art and politics, and recognizes an experienced artist or group of artists who engage political themes and advance social justice in visionary ways. The prize is awarded on the basis of a project’s long-term impact, boldness, and artistic excellence.

The prize initiative serves as a catalyst for activities that illuminate the important role of the arts in society, and strengthen teaching and learning at The New School. A presentation of the winning project, a conference, classes, and an online and print publication featuring select nominated projects complement a cash award and short-term New York City residency for the honoree.

About Vera G. List
Twenty years ago, at the height of the culture wars, a time of rousing public debates about freedom of speech, the arts, and society’s relationship to art, the Vera List Center for Art and Politics was founded at The New School, with an endowment from university life trustee Vera G. List. For more than forty years, List (1908-2002) was a significant presence at The New School and a promoter of the university’s mission of lifelong education. She joined the university’s leadership as a member of the board of trustees in 1956 and was named a life trustee in 1985. The generosity of Vera List and her husband, Albert List, helped shape the intellectual, artistic, and physical landscape of the university. Other List initiatives include: The New School Art Collection, a student writing award, the Albert and Vera List Academic Center, and numerous endowed scholarships.