UT Dallas doctoral student Tricia Stout was invited to present at the prestigious Graduate Symposium for the Nasher Prize, which was awarded to Theaster Gates. Tricia is a PhD student in Arts & Humanities at UT Dallas, where she is specializing in Literature and Aesthetic Studies. Her current research focuses on issues within Cultural Studies, Aesthetics and Politics, and Film Studies, with specific attention to Latin America.
The Nasher Prize Dialogues Symposium was held on April 5 and consisted of five 30-minute paper presentations from art history graduate students across the nation who were selected to participate in this year’s symposium that focused on the work of Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates. Tricia presented her paper “Art as an Ongoing Relationship: Theaster Gates’ Architectural Projects” in the afternoon panel, which was followed by a question and answer session moderated by Sofia Bastidas and open to the audience. The symposium concluded with a keynote presentation by Matthew Jesse Jackson, and panelists had the opportunity to meet the 2018 Nasher Prize Laureate, Theaster Gates. Below is a copy of Tricia’s paper abstract.
Art as an Ongoing Relationship: Theaster Gates’ Architectural Projects
Within the past three decades both social practice art and community art have flourished. One characteristic of community-based art is that it focuses on the importance of building relationships. These relationships can be characterized in three distinct categories: (1) the relationship between the artist and the community; (2) the relationship between individuals as they experience or participate in the art collaboratively; and (3) the relationship between the viewer and the work of art. As a potter, turned social practice artist, Theaster Gates emphasizes the ability of the artist to shape nothing material into something. In his ongoing architectural projects, Dorchester Projects (established in 2008) and Stony Island Arts Bank (established in 2015), Gates refers to this shaping of material as establishing “heat” within a neighborhood; this “heat” ultimately creates dialogue. This paper will explore the connection between the importance of beauty, dialogue, and the three categories of relationships that emerge within Gates’ architectural projects. In addition, it will touch on the recent trend amongst community artists to incorporate an element of education into the art experience, which prolongs the existence of the work of art, as its relationships take on a life of their own.