World-renowned artist to debut "Processions" at the Hirshhorn AND to be featured on new season of ART21

Theaster Gates and the Black Monks of Mississippi. Gates performance piece, called “The Runners,” involves the Black Monks of Mississippi (his Chicago-based experimental music ensemble), and the Howard University track team. The debut is set for September at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., (Sara Pooley)

DC. September 2016 is proving to be a great month for Theaster Gates! Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden has announced the inaugural performance of the new public program series he created called “Processions.” It debuts Wednesday, Sept. 21, coinciding with the historic opening of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture on Sept. 24. 

“Processions,” is a series of four collaborative performances that will introduce unexpected and unexplored connections between sacred music, African and African American culture and history, theater, world dance and chant. To produce “Processions,” Gates will bring together a different ensemble of noted local, national and international artists and musicians for each event. The first performance, entitled “The Runners” features students from Howard University, alongside The Black Monks of Mississippi, an experimental musical group who harmonize the Eastern ideals of melodic restraint with gospel and blues genres that are deeply rooted in the African American musical tradition. The group has performed around the world at venues such as dOCUMENTA, the Whitney Museum of American Art, Blaffer Art Museum and the Serralves Foundation.

The public is invited to experience these ever-changing performances communally, watching as “The Runners” processes through the museum. While Howard University track athletes move along the Hirshhorn’s open inner galleries, Gates and the Black Monks weave through the outer galleries, responding to both the artworks on view and the circular shape of the building’s iconic architecture.

Subsequent “Processions” will tap into the Washington region’s rich heritage of jazz, folk and gospel musicians, as well as dancers, artists and students. The second performance will coincide with “In the Tower: Theaster Gates, ” opening spring 2017, at the National Gallery of Art.

DAVID ADJAYE to join Gates Sept.21

Hirshhorn Presents David Adjaye and Theaster Gates in Conversation Sept. 21
Evening Includes Debut of Gates’ New “Processions” and the
Only Public Talk by David Adjaye, Architect of National Museum of African American History and Culture, During Opening Week




Theaster Gates among four African American Artists, Edgar Arceneaux, Nick Cave and Stan Douglas, on the New Season of ART21

Before Theaster Gates debut performance at the Hirshhorn, find out all about him on PBS. The new season “ART21: Art in the 21st Century” debuts Sept. 16th. For the first time, the PBS series is focusing on the connection to place and the ways an artist’s practice is influenced and driven by where they live and work.

More than a decade ago, Gates renovated a house in Greater Grand Crossing, a South Side neighborhood close to his job at the University of Chicago. In the years since, he has purchased adjacent properties, programming them for film screenings and listening sessions, and acquiring rare collections of records, books, and glass slides.

Stony Island Arts Bank, his most recent project opened last year. Gates saved the historic bank from demolition and has transformed the building into a community and cultural center that houses various archives and features exhibition space. The bank is the hallmark of his Rebuild Foundation, which focuses on culture based, artist led, and neighborhood driven activities. A hybrid of community development, social engagement, object making and performance, Gates’s practice has gone global, but the roots and inspiration for his work remain in Chicago, where he is still based.

Gates is among 16 artists who will be featured on Season 8 of ART 21. The new episodes include four African American artists, among the most creative, thought-provoking and socially engaged artists working today - Edgar Arceneaux of Los Angeles, Chicago-based Nick Cave, Canadian artist Stan Douglas, and Gates.

Edgar Arceneaux (b.1972, Los Angeles, CA, USA) “investigates historical patterns through drawings, installations, and multimedia events, such as the reenactment of Ben Vereen’s tragically misunderstood blackface performance at Ronald Reagan’s 1981 Inaugural Gala.”

Nick Cave (b.1959, Fulton, MO, USA) “creates “Soundsuits”—surreally majestic objects blending fashion and sculpture—that originated as metaphorical suits of armor in response to the Rodney King beatings and have evolved into vehicles for empowerment.”

Stan Douglas (b.1960, Vancouver, BC, Canada) “reenacts historical moments of tension that connect local histories to broader social movements of struggle and utopian aspiration.”

Theaster Gates (b.1973, Chicago, IL, USA) “first encountered creativity in the music of Black churches on his journey to becoming an urban planner, potter, and artist.”

The forthcoming season is hosted by actress Claire Danes and award-winning documentary filmmaker Stanley Nelson is among the directors who worked on the segments. The show will air in four one-hour episodes, each focusing on four artists grouped by the city where they are based—Chicago (Sept. 16 @ 9 p.m., Cave and Gates), Mexico City (Sept. 16 @ 10 p.m.). Los Angeles (Sept. 23 @ 9 p.m., Arceneaux), and Vancouver (Sept. 23 @ 10 p.m., Douglas).


Husband and Wife, Sunday Morning, Detroit, Michigan, 1950.

On view in VA GORDON PARKS: Back to Fort Scott


Gordon Parks, Untitled, Columbus, Ohio, 1950.

Richmond. On view at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts through Oct. 30, 2016, "Back to Fort Scott" examines the realities of life under segregation in 1950s America, as seen through the lens of groundbreaking photographer Gordon Parks (1912–2006). As the first African American photographer hired full time by Life magazine, Parks was frequently given assignments involving social issues affecting black America. In 1950, one such project took him back to his hometown in Kansas for a photo essay he planned to call “Back to Fort Scott.”

Parks had left Fort Scott some twenty years earlier, after his mother died, and he found himself, a teenager and the youngest of fifteen children, suddenly having to make his own way in the world. He used this assignment to revisit memories of his birthplace—many involving serious racial discrimination—and to reconnect with childhood friends, all of whom had attended the same all-black grade school as Parks. Since most of his classmates had also left Fort Scott, Parks traveled to Kansas City, Chicago, and other cities to record their lives there. One of the most visually rich and captivating of all his projects, Parks’s photographs, now owned by the Gordon Parks Foundation, were slated to appear in April 1951, but the photo essay was never published. Gordon Parks: Back to Fort Scott revives those photos and presents a rarely seen view of the everyday lives of African American citizens, years before the civil rights movement began in earnest.

Exclusive to VMFA’s presentation of this exhibition is Parks at Life: Works from VMFA’s Collection. These eight photographs by Parks appeared in subsequent photo essays for Life  on topics ranging from Black Muslims to the effects of segregation on one family. Copies of those issues will also be on display.