2016 Artists in Residence
2016 Harman-Eisner Artists in Residence
Renée Fleming · Theaster Gates
Renée Fleming captivates audiences with her sumptuous soprano voice and consummate artistry. Known as “the people’s diva,” Fleming is a 2013 recipient of the National Medal of Arts and a four-time Grammy winner. As a musical statesman she has performed at the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, the 2008 Olympics, the Brandenburg Gate to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and on the balcony of Buckingham Palace for the 2012 Diamond Jubilee Concert. In 2008 she became the first woman in the 125-year history of the Metropolitan Opera to solo headline an opening night gala. An advocate for literacy, Renée Fleming has been featured in promotional campaigns for the Association of American Publishers and on the READ poster campaign for the American Library Association. She was honored by The New York Public Library as a “Library Lion.” Her book, The Inner Voice, an intimate account of her career and creative process was published by Viking Penguin in 2004. Renée is currently a member of the Board of Trustees of the Carnegie Hall Corporation, the Board of Sing for Hope, the Board of Trustees of Asia Society, and the Artistic Advisory Board of the Polyphony Foundation. In 2010, she was named the first-ever Creative Consultant at Lyric Opera of Chicago, where she is also a member of the Board and a Vice President. She is an Artistic Advisor at Large for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
Theaster Gates is a Chicago-based artist, musician, and activist who works to stretch the idea of what we understand visual art to be. Trained as both a sculptor and an urban planner, his work is rooted in social responsibility. The winner of the 2015 Artes Mundi prize, Gates is the founder of the Rebuild Foundation and a Professor in the Department of Visual Arts, University of Chicago. His most acclaimed work, Dorchester Projects, began in 2009. Gates transformed a cluster of buildings on Chicago’s South Side into alternative cultural spaces. He used repurposed materials from across the city to rehouse retired collections such as 14,000 books from the former Prairie Avenue Bookstore and 8,000 records from the Dr. Wax record store. Last fall he opened the Stony Island Arts Bank on the South Side of Chicago, a platform for site-specific contemporary art commissions and exhibitions, a venue for artist and scholar residencies, and a home for Rebuild’s archives and collections. The arts bank is housed in a former actual bank that was built in 1923 and was once a vibrant community savings and loan. By the eighties, the branch had closed and the building remained vacant and deteriorating for decades. The Arts Bank will serve as a space for neighborhood residents to preserve, access, re-imagine, and share their heritage—and as a destination for artists, scholars, curators, and collectors to research and engage with South Side history.