Theaster Gates Receives Inaugural New School Vera List Center Prize for Arts and Politics

November 13, 2012

NY Times
By: Randy Kennedy
November 11, 2012

'New School Prize Goes to Theaster Gates'

The New School has chosen the Chicago artist and activist Theaster Gates as the recipient of its inaugural Vera List Center Prize for Art and Politics, a $15,000 award that will be given to an artist every two years. The prize includes a long-term commitment by the school to aid the winner’s projects through academic study or other means.

The prize commemorates the 20th anniversary of the List Center, named in honor of the philanthropist Vera List, who died in 2002. A noted collector, List devoted her money and time to art and educational institutions, with a focus on programs that promoted social justice. She also played a role in the founding of the New Museum in 1977.

Mr. Gates, an internationally exhibited artist, has become well known for “The Dorchester Projects,” a transformation over the last six years of a group of properties on Chicago’s economically struggling South Side into a community center with a library, slide archive, performance space and kitchen. As part of the prize, which was awarded by a jury of artists, curators and writers, Mr. Gates will present a seminar about the project at the New School in 2013.

In a statement, the curator Okwui Enwezor, the jury’s chairman, described “The Dorchester Projects” as an extraordinary examination of “how the African-American experience is enlivened by ongoing processes of testimony.”

“Entering that installation,” he added, “is like entering a haunted space.”

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