Exhibition view: Theaster Gates, The Minor Arts, National Gallery of Art, Washington (March 5 – September 4, 2017). Courtesy The New York Times. Photo: Gabriella Demczuk.
'It's a super-interesting moment to be at the National Gallery, where the question of what it means to be an American, and what kind of American are you, has a new kind of resonance,' said Theaster Gates, the sculptor, installation and performance artist and urban interventionist, whose exhibition The Minor Arts opened there this month in Washington.
Mr. Gates has taken materials he salvaged from shuttered African-American businesses, schools and churches on the South Side of Chicago, where he is based, into a tower gallery in the museum's East Building. There, he has reconstituted slate shingles from a roof, wooden planks from a gym floor and bound copies of Ebony magazine into monumental structures that echo abstract canvases elsewhere in the institution, but are embedded with unsung stories of black laborers and entrepreneurs