Theaster Gates to be awarded prestigious Richman Fellowship

Photo/Sara Pooley, courtesy of the artist

Theaster Gates, winner of 2015-16 Richman Fellowship

Acclaimed artist and social activist Theaster Gates has been named the 2015-16 Brandeis University Richman Distinguished Fellow in Public Life.

The fellowship will bring Gates to the Brandeis campus from March 21 through March 24, including a public talk on Wednesday, March 23.

Gates may be best known for his work reviving abandoned buildings on Chicago's South Side. The Rebuild Foundation, a non-profit Gates established, purchases abandoned buildings and, using recycled materials, converts them into visually stunning cultural centers, inciting movements of community revitalization that are artist led and neighborhood driven.

“Theaster Gates has a remarkable track record of creating art that is profound and socially significant,” said Brandeis Interim President Lisa Lynch. “Across campus, we look forward to hearing his insights and views when he comes to Brandeis in March.”

Most recently, the foundation purchased a derelict former bank building and converted it into the Stony Island Arts Bank, which will serve as a community gathering space, art gallery, and a place for black cultural artifacts. Its library includes a wall filled from floor to ceiling with a comprehensive collection of black magazines, including Jet and Ebony. Gates’ other building projects on the South Side have included converting once-abandoned spaces into a public cinema house, an artist residence, and community center.

Installations and other works by Gates, who is a professor of visual arts and director of Arts and Public Life at the University of Chicago, have been displayed in prominent galleries and museums in the U.S. and abroad.

The Richman Fellowship was created by Brandeis alumna Dr. Carol Richman Saivetz '69, and her children, Michael Saivetz '97 and Aliza Saivetz Glasser '01, in honor of her parents, Fred and Rita Richman. The fellowship recognizes individuals active in public life whose contributions have had a significant impact on improving American society, strengthening democratic institutions, advancing social justice or increasing opportunities for all citizens. Past winners include civil rights activist Julian Bond in 2014-15 and PolicyLink founder Angela Glover Blackwell in 2013-14.

The fellowship is hosted by the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life on behalf of the Office of the President.

Categories: Alumni, Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Student Life

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