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Theaster Gates Named To Inaugural Role At Colby College Lunder Institute

Theaster Gates Named To Inaugural Role At Colby College Lunder Institute

photo credit: Zoe Rain

Chicagoan Theaster Gates, has been announced as the first Distinguished Visiting Artist and Director of Artist Initiatives at the Colby Museum of Art’s new Lunder Institute for American Art. Gates, founder of the non-profit Rebuild Foundation who currently serves as Director of Arts + Public Life, at the University of Chicago, is a man who wears many hats and has received accolades for his work over the years. His role at the Lunder Institute for American Art will be a three-year appointment, where Gates will convene artists and thinkers from around the world for retreats, provide opportunities for students and faculty to engage in his practice, and identify opportunities for additional artist residencies, projects, and exhibitions at the Institute, founded in 2017 at the Colby College Museum of Art. In conjunction with the appointment, the Museum will mount a major exhibition of Gates’s work in 2021, featuring pieces and projects he will create during his time in Waterville.
The exhibition of Theaster Gates’s work scheduled for 2021 is expected to continue the series of respected presentations organized by the Colby College Museum of Art.

In late 20117, Theaster Gates was awarded the Nasher Prize and $100,000 by the Nasher Sculpture Center for his contemporary artwork.

“I am honored to be given this invitation by the Lunder Institute to be in residence…What I need at this stage in my career is time for reflection and research. This residency period allows me time to develop the most ambitious projects of my practice” said Theaster Gates.

theaster gates image via LA times

Gates’ appointment comes after his four-day residency at the Lunder Institute in 2017, when he visited with Colby students in a number of classes and met with local community partners. The Lunder Institute  at Colby College’s Museum of Art was established through the donation of Peter and Paula Lunder, whose earlier contributions to Colby College have included the landmark donation of the Lunder Collection, one of the most important private collections of American art ever assembled.

Major recent exhibitions have included Marsden Hartley’s Maine (2017), co-curated with The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Brand-New & Terrific: Alex Katz in the 1950s (2015), which traveled to the Cleveland Museum of Art in 2017 and will open at the Neuberger Museum of Art at SUNY Purchase this summer.

One of the primary goals of the Lunder Institute is to provide time and space for artists to reflect, innovate, make work, and convene. During his time at the Institute, Gates will establish a studio in Waterville, where he will concentrate on his ongoing practice in sculpture, installation, and urban engagement. Gates will also organize summer gatherings in 2019 and 2020, bringing together artists and scholars to address themes such as retreat and reflection, exploring the tradition of Maine as an inspirational haven for artists, and producing a series of recorded and published conversations. During the course of his appointment at Colby, Gates will remain Professor in the Department of Visual of Arts and the College at the University of Chicago and will continue in his role as Senior Advisor for Cultural Innovation and Advisor to the Dean of Harris Public Policy.

“We feel immensely fortunate to be able to bring Theaster Gates to Colby, to help us realize the ambitious mission of the new Lunder Institute for American Art,” said Colby College President David A. Greene. “Having known Theaster for many years and having witnessed how his innovative work has changed people’s lives, I am thrilled that he will soon add to Colby’s strengths in the humanistic and creative disciplines that are essential to the liberal arts.”

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“Theaster Gates has done far more than challenge our understanding of what art can be. He has shown us in profound ways what art can do. He embeds himself in a place, brings people together, and creates important new spaces for engagement and dialogue. We look forward eagerly to welcoming him to Waterville, where we know he will show our campus and our wider community new ways of thinking, being, and doing.”  – Sharon Corwin, the Carolyn Muzzy Director and Chief Curator of the Colby College Museum of Art


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