Back in May 2013, CS covered the large- scale installation Theaster Gates
URBAN PLANNER. PRESERVATIONIST. ARTIST.
Theaster Gates has built an impressive résumé as he’s helped reshape the city’s South Side. A quick glance at his growing list of roles— community builder, musician, cultural ambassador and prizewinner—reveals that he might be the original multihyphenate. His day job is working as a professor at the University of Chicago, where he has forged artistic and physical links between the academic community, its surrounding neighborhood and the broader city. Turning an abandoned and dilapidated bank into the Stony Island Arts Bank is emblematic of his reach and a project that brought together many of his passions. “It’s a model of having a cultural space that functions as an exhibition venue, an archive and collections venue, and then a space where people can hang,” he told Artspace when the center opened. “A space on the South Side that’s meant to evoke deep conversation, new friendships and, ultimately, a community of people who also want to help with the transformation work of what needs to happen in the ’hood.” The art center is a visible symbol of what a talented and committed individual like Gates can accomplish when he surpasses ordinary labels.