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Press Release

Black Vessel for a Saint - Exhibitions - Theaster Gates

Black Vessel for a Saint, 2017. Photo: Gene Pittman. Courtesy Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.

Every saint needs a home. When St. Laurence, a cast concrete figure about my height, lost his home on Chicago’s South Side because St. Laurence church was being demolished, his itinerancy became my topic for investigation. I wanted to give Larry, as we referred to him in the studio, a new home. When the Walker Art Center invited me to contribute an outdoor permanent installation, I immediately thought of the Sol Lewitt and Joseph Beuys works that would be this project’s immediate neighbors. Creating a dialogue between these three “saints” might be interesting. The project allowed for me to pursue brick manufacturing in a way that was no longer gestural but quite real. Released from bricks-as-symbols, friends in South Carolina set me up with industrial brick making capacity. Chicago-based architectectural firm Muller and Muller helped with the design of a cylindrical structure—a new home and holy space for St. Laurence, patron saint of archivists and librarians.