Theaster Gates: A Clay Sermon

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Open: Tue-Sun 11am-6pm

77-82 Whitechapel High Street, E1 7QX, London, UK
Open: Tue-Sun 11am-6pm


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Theaster Gates: A Clay Sermon

London

Theaster Gates: A Clay Sermon
to Sun 9 Jan 2022
Tue-Sun 11am-6pm
Artist: Theaster Gates

Special event:
Talk. Big Ideas: Theaster Gates. Thursday 11 November, 7pm. Booking

O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.
– Isaiah 64:8

Artworks

Afro-Ikebana, 2019

Cast bronze, clay and tatami mats
72 13/16 x 78 3/4 x 42 1/2 in (185 x 200 x 108 cm)
© Theaster Gates Photo © White Cube (Theo Christelis)

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Religious Alchemy, 2016-2018

Mixed media
190 x 70 x 96 cm
© Theaster Gates Photo © White Cube (Theo Christelis)

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Face Jug, c. 1850

Stoneware
11.4 × 9 × 9.5 cm
Collection of C Philip and Corbett Toussaint

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Rickshaw for Fossilized Soul Wares, 2012

Wood, cast black concrete, clay and plastic
175 x 40 x 40 in (444.5 x 101.6 x 101.6 cm)
© Theaster Gates Photo © White Cube (Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd)

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They believe, you breathe, they quake, you dance, they wet, you pray, 2020

Johnson Publishing Company carpet and high fired stoneware with glaze
Carpet: 149 5/8 x 118 1/2 in (380 x 301 cm) Vessel: 18 1/8 x 27 15/16 x 27 15/16 in (46 x 71 x 71 cm)
© Theaster Gates Photo © White Cube (Theo Christelis)

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Lady On Senufo Stool, 2020

Wood-fired brick and clay oxide
21 x 15 x 21 in (53.3 x 38.1 x 53.3 cm)
© Theaster Gates Photo © White Cube (Theo Christelis)

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Power Figure, 2019

Clay and wood
35 7/16 x 35 1/16 x 10 5/8 in (90 x 89 x 27 cm)
© Theaster Gates Photo © White Cube (Theo Christelis)

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They believe, you breathe, they quake, you dance, they wet, you pray, 2020

Johnson Publishing Company carpet and high fired stoneware with glaze
Carpet: 149 5/8 x 118 1/2 in (380 x 301 cm) Vessel: 18 1/8 x 27 15/16 x 27 15/16 in (46 x 71 x 71 cm)
© Theaster Gates Photo © White Cube (Theo Christelis)

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In Christian scripture, the relationship between God and humanity is analogous to the potter working with clay. ‘As a potter’, according to Theaster Gates, ‘you learn how to shape the world’. Clay and religion are foundational to the artistic practice of the Chicago based artist who has received international acclaim for his community and cultural interventions in Black space, particularly on the South Side of Chicago. As a youth, Gates joined the New Cedar Grove Missionary Baptist Church choir and, subsequently, studied urban planning, theology and ceramics.

A Clay Sermon is an exposition of the significance of clay, its material and spiritual legacies. Bringing together research, ideas, process and production, this exhibition surveys works by Gates across two decades from his early hand-thrown pots to his large-scale Afro-Mingei sculptures. It explores craft, labour, performance and racial identity; the use of clay in building communities of knowledge, its role in colonialism and global trade and the ceremonial and ritual use of ceramics.

Alongside his own work, Gates has made a selection of historic ceramics from private and public collections, including the Victoria and Albert Museum, where he has been Emeritus Fellow at the V&A Research Institute. The exhibition also includes a new film by Gates, which takes the form of a sermon on clay, and his most recent body of work: large stoneware vessels installed on custom-made plinths of hand-milled wood and stone.

Installation view: Theaster Gates: A Clay Sermon, Whitechapel Gallery, 29 September 2021 – 9 January 2022. Image courtesy Whitechapel Gallery. Photo: Theo Christelis.


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