Theaster Gates Named 2012 USA Fellow, Chicago Crain’s 40 Under 40 - General News - News | The Joyce Foundation
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Theaster Gates Named 2012 USA Fellow, Chicago Crain’s 40 Under 40

December 7, 2012 11:58 AM

2010 Joyce Award winner continues to receive praise for his art and activism.

2012 was a nonstop year of honors from the art world, media appearances and commissions for Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates. The year began with a commission to create the visual identity for the 2012 Armory Show, saw Gates’ The Dorchester Project and his related work on neighborhood redevelopment covered by major media outlets, included an invitation to participate in dOCUMENTA(13), a German contemporary art fair held every five years and was capped off by being named a 2012 USA Fellow by USA Artists.

The 2010 Joyce Award winner was named the USA Fellow for Visual Art. USA Artists wrote that “Gates employs urban planning, sculpture, and social practice in performances, installations, and urban interventions. In his expansive artistic practice, Gates has assembled gospel choirs, formed temporary unions, converted abandoned buildings into cultural spaces and created sculptures.” The prestigious honor comes with a grant for the artist to complete a new piece. USA Fellows are nominated and selected by a panel of discipline-specific artists and art experts.

And, it’s not just the art world that has noticed Gates’ work. Crain’s Chicago Business named him one of the publication’s 2012 40 Under 40, a list of Chicagoans who have changed their fields and the city for the better before their 40th birthdays. Watch Gates explain how belief impacts his art.


In 2010, Gates received a Joyce Award for a new installation and performance at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Inspired by stories of Dave Drake, also known as Dave the Potter, a slave in South Carolina, Gates collaborated with workers at the nearby Kohler plant to create new ceramic work that relates functional and art objects. When his exhibit, To Speculate Darkly, opened, Gates assembled a local gospel choir to record couplets inscribed in Dave the Potter’s pottery and perform at the opening.


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