Skip to content
subscribe
Account
SEARCH

Categories

LASTEST

Theaster Gates and Chicago Public Library

Theaster Gates Illuminates the Chicago Public Library

Theaster Gates Presents a Vibrant Installation at the Chicago Public Library.

Erica Silverman

8 January 2024

Artist Theaster Gates in Chicago

The Chicago Public Library (CPL) has unveiled a powerful public artwork by the distinguished American artist and University of Chicago professor Theaster Gates, titled Alter for the Unbanned, 2023. Commissioned by The City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, the piece invokes the artist’s storied experience with archiving and preserving material to create a beacon of freedom and community engagement. Illinois made history as the first state to outlaw book bans this year—a decision deeply energized by the ongoing attempt by the American Library Association to ban hundreds of books every year—and Alter for the Unbanned responds to the important happening.

Theaster Gates and Chicago Public Library

Courtesy of the artist and Chicago Public Library.


“Unbanned” Invites Readers to the Harold Washington Library

Within the Harold Washington Library at CPL, a circular onyx steel table and spiral shelves artfully display a myriad of books once banned in America—from Louise Eldirch’s 1998 novel Antelope Woman to Margaret Atwood’s 2015 novel The Heart Goes Last. Above the works, a vivid neon sign reads “Unbanned,” beckoning visitors to explore the texts and connect with one another. 

“This neon sign has a motor rotator,” explained Gates. “So ‘Unbanned’ will be kind of calling you out like a drive-in movie or something. I think it will be a lot of fun.”

Theaster Gates and Chicago Public Library

Chris Brown, Linda Johnson Rice, Erin Harkey, Deborah Caldwell-Stone, and Theaster Gates; courtesy of the Chicago Public Library.


Gates Advocates for the Growth of Culture in Chicago and Beyond

Gates’s Rebuild Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to the positive growth of communities in Chicago’s South Side, revitalized the Stony Island Arts Bank in 2015, creating a comprehensive library, gallery, and media archive. Books from the Chicago-based Johnson Publishing Company, who spearheaded periodicals including Jet and Ebony, were meticulously preserved, uplifting works of black culture for all to experience and enjoy. The compelling installation on permanent display has given rise to “unbanned” book categories in a succession of local libraries, including the North Side’s Sulzer Regional Library, advocating for readers and writers alike to reflect and reawaken.

SAME AS TODAY

FURTHER READING

Courtney Willis Blair Lets Artists Lead at White Cube’s First New York Space

The New Senior Director curates the inaugural group show at the gallery’s Upper East Side locale and shapes the gallery's U.S. presence.

SUBSCRIBE TO MAGAZINE

Kelly Wearstler

THE WINTER EXPERIENCE ISSUE
2023

Subscribe

SUBSCRIBE TO NEWSLETTER

Go inside the worlds of Art, Fashion, Design and Lifestyle.

READ THIS NEXT

The New Senior Director curates the inaugural group show at the gallery’s Upper East Side locale and shapes the gallery's U.S. presence.

SUBSCRIBE TO NEWSLETTER

Go inside the worlds
of Art, Fashion, Design,
and Lifestyle.