Theaster Gates honored with Richman Fellowship
Acclaimed artist and urban community builder Theaster Gates was recognized as the 2016 Richman Distinguished Fellow in Public Life and delivered a lecture in Wasserman Cinematheque Wednesday.
Gates' lecture, "A Cursory Sermon on Art and the City" was more performance than academic talk. Against a backdrop of projected images, Gates sang gospel tunes, offered wry humor and profound reflection.
"Little black babies grow up to be artists," Gates said. "The problem that I think about the most is where will the babies dance? Where will the babies sing? Where will the babies learn to act, learn to be better selves?"
Gates has worked to address those questions by 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.
"For all of us involved in the selection process, Theaster Gates really exemplifies so well the criteria of the award," Brandeis Interim President Lisa Lynch said. "He uses his imagination, beauty and love to change the world in relationship with community."
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.
The fellowship is hosted by the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life on behalf of the Office of the President.