“The Minor Arts,” a new body of work from Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates—the keynote speaker at the 2016 Contract Design Forum—is being presented as part of the “In the Tower” exhibition series at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. On view in the recently renovated East Building, from March 5 through September 4, 2017, the exhibition examines the meaning behind discarded and ordinary found objects. “The Minor Arts” marks the artist’s first solo exhibition in Washington and on the East Coast.
“Over the past decade Theaster Gates has created an impressive body of work that powerfully explores the relationships between art and life, past and present, ignored and valued,” said Earl A. Powell III, director, National Gallery of Art. “We are thrilled to have Gates as part of our tradition of presenting the works of leading contemporary artists in the East Building’s Tower 3 gallery.”
Sourced from architecture, the installation’s media includes slate roof tiles, wood flooring from a gym, and tar, while two of the pieces generate new built forms from reclaimed materials. “Slate Corridor for Possibility of Speaking in Tongues and Depositing Ghetto Reliquary” (2017) is a 48-foot-wide and 20-foot-high portion of a slate roof saved from the decommissioned St. Laurence Church in Chicago. “New Egypt Sanctuary of the Holy Word and Image” (2017) fashions a towering freestanding library with marble floors derived from the same church. The piece honors archival issues of Ebony magazine that were given Gates’s Rebuild Foundation by the Johnson Publishing Company to after they relocated their Chicago headquarters. “A Game of My Own” (2017) features floorboards from a high school gym that have been restructured into a form that conjures geometric abstraction.