Press Releases

news release Theaster Gates and the Black Monks of Mississippi to Bring “A Cultural Revival” to Akron

For Release: August 31, 2016

Akron, Ohio—The Akron Art Museum is pleased to present a free music performance from internationally recognized artist Theaster Gates along with two members of the Black Monks of Mississippi. The performance, “A Cultural Revival,” is open to the public and will be hosted in the Bud and Susie Rogers Garden of the art museum on Wednesday, September 14 at 6:00 pm. The program with Gates is part of the Akron Art Museum’s ongoing initiative to inspire new relationships between organizations and community members, and create enhanced social, cultural and economic opportunities through art experiences.

Gates is an acclaimed artist, musician, community organizer, urban planner and developer and cultural entrepreneur. His performance with two members of the Black Monks of Mississippi coincides with his visit to Akron to speak on the importance of the artist as an entrepreneur at the Akron Roundtable. The artist’s Roundtable presentation will take place on Thursday, September 15, 2016 at 12:00 pm at the Quaker Station on the campus of The University of Akron, and is sponsored by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The talk and luncheon is presented in conjunction with the Akron Art Museum, Downtown Akron Partnership and GAR Foundation. Tickets for the luncheon are $20.00 and are available at

The Black Monks of Mississippi are an experimental musical ensemble organized by Gates. Often joined by musical monks from around the world, the performers harmonize Eastern ideals of melodic restraint with the spirit of gospel in the Black Church and the soul of the Blues. Together, they serve to musically enrich and emotionally activate many of Gates’ exhibitions into transcendent and participatory experiences, uniting holiness and humanness, restraint and the ecstatic.

In Chicago, Gates’ leadership of artist-led spaces has catalyzed an evolution in perceptions of some of the most underserved parts of the city. Beginning with interventions in small-scale residences, now known as Dorchester Projects, Gates’ houses in Greater Grand Crossing became a nexus for globally engaged experiments in structures of individual and collective living, working and art-making. Launched into the international art world as 12 Ballads for Huguenot House at dOCUMENTA13, the houses embodied a new system of values not only in the austere yet inviting atmosphere incorporating once-discarded materials as design elements, but in the ongoing, flexible use of the spaces and the creation of new relationships and opportunities among artists, visitors and students.

At the University of Chicago, Gates is a Professor in the Department of Visual Arts and the College, and Director of Arts + Public Life which is housed at the Arts Incubator in Washington Park. He also leads an urban research initiative known as Place Lab—a team of social scientists, architects, creative professionals and business leaders. With support from the Knight Foundation, Gates and his team create frameworks for reimagining the role that culture plays in the redevelopment of transforming African American communities. Gates is helping to define the future of artistic place-based efforts, in research and practice.

Gates is also the founder and Artistic Director of Rebuild Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that endeavors to rebuild the cultural foundations of neighborhoods and incite movements of community revitalization that are culture based, artist led, and neighborhood driven.

Generously sponsored by the Burton D. Morgan Foundation, with additional support by The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, in partnership with Akron Roundtable.

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