31 century museum in Chicago

Dorchester Projects (Art as communication)

Katie Waddell

For me, one of the most striking principles that Dorchester explores is stewardship.

Stewardship. Being a good neighbor. Making an impact right where you are. Being a good steward to your community is an act of solidarity. It means standing by something rather than simply abandoning if things go sour. It means recognizing and utilizing the resources around you. Humans, materials, buildings, and neighborhoods are ecological facts; they are as crucial to the landscape as any tree or waterway, and deserve the same measure of respect and care. Being a good steward, a good neighbor, means providing that care, even if it’s just a matter of lending a cup of sugar.

Joel Parsons

I love the Dorchester Project’s insistence on the hyper-local, on utilizing resources from one block, one street, or even one house over. I also love its refusal to be defined by people outside this radius. The best part of our visit was the persistent “but what is this place?” question that kept erupting from our group, and the variety of answers, even conflicting answers, that we received.

Rebecca Hernandez

Our attention is so often targeted on the world outside of our daily physical experience. Even the current emphasis on “local” is in continuous conversation with the far away. It is local as OPPOSED to global. In contrast, Dorchester Projects is a celebration of the here and now of its place. Its audience doesn’t fit broad categories; instead, it is interested in being a welcoming space for its neighbors. And not any conceptual notion of neighbor. Not you. Not me. But, literally, those who live right next door.

Lauren Goldstein

The Dorchester Project was my favorite field trip in our research to define how institutions around Chicago are representative of the 31stCentury Contemporary Spirit. I think that Theaster Gates had a really simple and straightforward idea when he decided to buy the two houses that make up his projects, and the way he has chosen to refurbish and fill them was carefully considered. His houses are an example of reuse, and using them to store collections that may have been lost otherwise fits into the notion of contemporary spirit. The presence he created on Dorchester Avenue has allowed free art and public education that may not have existed otherwise for this community.

Marissa Lee Benedict

Our visit to Theater Gates’ Dorchester Project on the south side of Chicago was a trip I have been meaning to make for two years. I had heard so much about the project through multiple seminars and lectures that I was excited to finally tour the site with Kamin and our class in search of 31st Century contemporary spirit.

One of the most striking – and obviously carefully crafted– aspects of the Dorchester Project is the rich, textured quality of the space. The weather, worn lumber (provided by Ken Dunn’s Resource Center) has been built by Jon Preus into beautiful and unusual assemblages, giving the house much of its distinct and powerful character. As we walked through the space, up and down twisting flights of stairs and across floors built from repurposed bowling alley lanes, it became clear to me that a major element of the project was missing – Theaster Gates. Built outward from Gates’ own (and still semi-private) residence, the Dorchester Project seems integrally connected to Gates’ personal history and artistic vision. The project is built from and about his neighbors, his connections with the community, his experiences; essentially he is offering his world to the public, an invitation to come and develop their own work through his collection. Without Gates’ presence, it felt difficult, maybe even disrespectful, to imbue the objects and archives with assumed meaning. For all of the material present, there oddly was little narrative to be derived beyond the projects initial description; without clear evidence of Gates words, the voice of the project seemed somewhat muted.

Kamin Lertchaiprasert

The way of living is attestation.

Share Published on Sep 20, 2011 at 4:35 am.
Filled under: 31 century museum in Chicago
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