Theaster Gates is a trained potter. The process of learning is very important to him.
Theaster was dismayed by the degradation of his neighbourhood – he called it a “Blight”. He lived in the South Side, Chicago. After looking at the rundown houses he decided to buy an abandoned two story property. He transformed the building into a Library, Slide Archive and Soul Food Kitchen.
He bought more abandoned buildings and repurposed them for the community, by doing so created a new and vibrant cultural network. The content of these buildings are very relevant to the people of the neighbourhood. Gates calls these houses “Hubs” that are all connected.
A lot of the materials that Theaster uses is reclaimed and repurposed.
I love how Theaster calls what he is doing “Being Neighbourly”
He says that you got to look at what you have already, work with what you got and you’ll be surprised at what you can achieve. He says to look at rebuilding relationships, reenergising the people in the neighbourhoods. Allow the community to grow, build what the community really need.
When asked the question: “You make such a compelling case for beauty, and the importance of beauty and the arts, however there are people who would say that fund would be better off spent basic services for the disadvantaged. How would you combat that viewpoint? Gates says: Beauty is a basic service, sometimes when resources are not available in areas or cities then culture can be used to ignite. You can start with culture and encourage people to reinvest in their community.