Burning Question

Is it possible to create a new economy in Haiti building on of the existing skills of local artisans? By infusing local fiber crafts with contemporary design and elevating the product to something that is desirable in the international market, could this new economy grow to sustain itself?


Traveling To



About the Project

Theaster Gates will travel to Haiti to work with seamstresses and bead workers who, though highly skilled, are unfamiliar with contemporary design. He will provide knowledge, tools, and blueprints intended to enable them to bring their craft to the global market, with the goal of helping to create a self-sustaining economy.


About the Artist

Born 1973, Chicago, IL. Lives and works in Chicago.


Theaster Gates has developed an expanded artistic practice that includes space development, object making, performance, and critical engagement with many publics. Founder of the nonprofit Rebuild Foundation, Gates is currently Director of Arts and Public Life at the University of Chicago.


Recent exhibition and performance venues include Locust Projects, in Miami; the Seattle Art Museum; Art Basel; Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art; Milwaukee Art Museum; Contemporary Arts Museum Houston; and the Armory Show and the Whitney Biennial, in New York City. Gates’ upcoming exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (May 18–October 16, 2013) extends the work he conceived for dOCUMENTA (13), in Kassel, Germany.


In 2012, Gates received the inaugural Vera List Center Prize for Art and Politics, was honored by The Wall Street Journal as Arts Innovator of the Year, and became a USA Fellow. He has also received awards and grants from Creative Capital, the Joyce Foundation, Graham Foundation, Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, and Artadia.

Photograph by Sara Pooley.