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Theaster Gates Founds Apprenticeship Program for Underemployed Chicago Residents

The artist Theaster Gates, via his Rebuild Foundation, has announced the launch of Dorchester Industries, an artisanal and craft training apprenticeship program for underemployed residents of Chicago’s South Side.

The program will put Rebuild’s artists-in-residence and local tradespeople—such as landscapers, masons, and general contractors—in contact with South Side residents who want to gain new skills and have the opportunity to make and sell a variety of designed objects. Handmade ceramics and wooden tables created by the program’s first generation of participants will be for sale at a benefit for the Stony Island Arts Bank, scheduled to take place on November 5. A series of Japanese-style ceramics made by Dorchester Industries participants, under the guidance of contemporary ceramicist Koichi Ohara, will also be included in the auction. Dorchester participants and Ohara have created nearly two thousand ceramic pieces, from soup bowls to sake pitchers and cups. Fifteen of these objects will be in the auction.

The benefit will also feature a preview of Glenn Ligon’s installation A Small Band, 2015, which will open to the public at the venue, free of charge, on November 7, 2016, and run through January 2017.

In the October 2013 issue of Artforum, Huey Copeland wrote about Gates’s propensity to explore boundaries—“between work and resistance, art and commerce, radicalism and reform, politics and policy—that black practitioners working within hegemonic frames have sought to at once master and disarticulate in reimagining history and tracking the past’s unfolding in the present.”