|Image via blackartistsretreat.com.|
On August 22 and 23, 2013, Theaster Gates hosted a private event called The Black Artists Retreat in Chicago. Posted here are the contents of an electronic message which recapped the event:
Date: August 30, 2013, 3:18:16 PM CDT
Subject: [B.A.R.] Looking Forward and Thanks!
One week ago we were flush with preparations to welcome you all here in Chicago for the Black Artists Retreat. Nearly 100 artists, creatives, and supporters gathered to begin an important conversation about the state of the arts, collaboration, and responsibility.
Candida Alvarez shared a favorite Langston Hughes passage on Thursday night reminding us to laugh and Kerry James Marshall remarked that although often in studio solitude we are not islands; this kind of coming together is critical. On Friday the historical yet prescient, text The Black Artist in America: A Symposium was dramatized and we were began to establish a baseline from which to move forward.
The transcript from 1969 may have held more similarities to 2013 than we would have imagined but let us read Mr. Gilliam's words once more, pg 254:
We're necessarily speaking of a job for the future. We've been few in number; the injustice of the whole social situation has made it so that we are few in number. We need not only to develop Black craftsmen, but also Black historians, Black critics. We need more Black-owned art galleries: let's talk about moving into business-art is a business. This a thing that concerns us. If we're looking for ways art- or black art- can be developed within a community, then let's talk about all the things that are really necessary to develop it.
We convened, we dance, we ate, we drank and we started something. We will be taking the next few weeks to gather information and responses from the retreat to shift the www.blackartistsretreat.com website into a platform that allows us, and others who could not join, to interact prior to next gatherings.
We have attached the group photo from Friday afternoon-what a beautiful bunch of people you all are!
In addition to the virtual communications we have had and will have, if you have not provided us your postal address, please do so here: www.postable.com/blackartistsretreat
Thank you all for participating in such a rare and special moment!
eliza and Marlease