On Saturday, November 16th, internationally acclaimed sculptor, installation artist, and community organizer Theaster Gates will speak at Sears Crosstown. This will be the public's last chance to see the landmark space before it begins its transformation into a "vertical urban village."
Based on Chicago's South Side, Gates has turned abandoned housing into libraries, founded traveling musical ensembles, and performed interpretive works about antebellum pottery. He has worked with museums, universities, charities, and government organizations in an effort to make and share his work. Gates' Memphis presentation, "A Way of Working," will address his twofold practice of being a maker with a grassroots sensibility and an effective organizer who wants to share his vision.
The artist is particularly interested in creating spaces or events where people can interact face-to-face. In a time where the term "community" often references social media and virtual interaction, Gates creates spaces where people can interact, IRL. The approach is apropos the Crosstown project, which seeks to condense Memphis' physical sprawl.
Elliot Perry, the retired NBA player, native Memphian, and Crosstown advocate, has followed and supported Gates' career from its early stages. "I fell in love with his work immediately. I really wanted him to come here and be involved in our community," says Perry. "When we think about Theaster's work, we think: How can we reuse what has already been used? He can bring a voice to Memphis that helps us focus on bringing communities back."
Says Perry, "[Crosstown] will be a place where artists, community education, health care — all of these can be in one place. The sheer number of voices, experiences, creativity — all of it can go on in one building. We can benefit from so many different kinds of ideas."
"Theaster Gates: A Way of Working" at Sears Crosstown building, Saturday, November 16th.
A reception is at 5:30 p.m. The lecture begins at 6 p.m., with a panel discussion to follow.