2018 Nasher Prize Graduate Symposium

Theaster Gates

The 2018 Nasher Prize Graduate Symposium offers master’s and doctoral students from any academic discipline the opportunity to present scholarly work on a host of questions and topics related to Nasher Prize Laureate Theaster Gates.

Addressing a broad audience of art historians and museum professionals, participants will receive feedback from fellow presenters, an invited keynote speaker, and audience members. Students selected to present papers will also have their work published in the annual symposium compendium, together with the paper delivered by the keynote speaker.

The 2018 Nasher Prize Graduate Symposium will take place Thursday, April 5, 2018. Proposals will be accepted through January 15, 2018. See Call for Papers below.


2018 Nasher Prize Laureate Theaster Gates

With a strong focus on the material aspects of memory, history, and place, Nasher Prize 2018 Laureate Theaster Gates has established a new paradigm for sculpture by joining together disparate methods of artistic production—the creation of discrete objects and the re-zoning, rebuilding, and reterritorializing of architectural spaces. Trained as a potter, with masters’ degrees in urban planning and theology, Gates has synthesized these different areas of study into a diverse practice that incorporates sculpture, ceramics, painting, music, performance, architecture, urban planning, and community engagement. Though best known for his architectural projects, such as Dorchester Projects (ongoing since 2008) and Stony Island Arts Bank (ongoing since 2015), for which the artist has restored abandoned buildings in Chicago and recast them as cultural centers, Gates approaches all aspects of his work from the perspective of an object-maker, with a strong focus on the material aspects of memory, history, and place. 

Keynote Speaker Matthew Jesse Jackson 

Matthew Jesse Jackson is a writer, curator, and critic who teaches modern and contemporary art at the University of Chicago. He is the author of The Experimental Group: Ilya Kabakov, Moscow Conceptualism, Soviet Avant-Gardes, winner of the Robert Motherwell Book Award, as well as co-author of Vision and Communism. For the past dozen years he has been involved with Our Literal Speed, a text and art undertaking located in Selma, Alabama. His current writing project is called Vernacular Modernism All Over the Deep South and he is editor and co-translator from the Russian of the forthcoming Ilya Kabakov: On Art.

2018 Nasher Prize Graduate Symposium Call for Papers

The Nasher Sculpture Center announces an open call for participation in the Nasher Prize Graduate Symposium, which aims to expand scholarship on the field of contemporary sculpture in its many forms. Submissions should address themes related to the work of the 2018 Nasher Prize Laureate, Theaster Gates. 

Suggested Topics for the 2018 Nasher Prize Graduate Symposium: Theaster Gates

  • Materiality in social practice art
  • Representation, memory, and memorial in contemporary art
  • The artists’ role in community rebuilding
  • Ethics and social practice art
  • Object-making in the expanded field of sculpture
  • Labor, craft, and contemporary art
  • Material history and cultural preservation in contemporary art
  • Black bodies in performance art
  • Identity politics and art: the legacy of the 1993 Whitney Biennial
  • Contemporary art after the 1993 Whitney Biennial

*Preference will be given to those papers that address Gates’s work directly.

Submissions may include, but are not limited to:

  • Excerpt of an MA/MFA paper or thesis
  • Excerpt of a seminar paper
  • Excerpt from a dissertation

Complete proposals must include the following:

  • A complete mailing address, e-mail address, phone number, field, and university affiliation of participant. 
  • Paper title and abstract of no more than 200 words that includes three to five keywords.

Send submissions and questions to symposium@nashersculpturecenter.org

Successful applicants will be notified by January 31, 2018.
With proof of need, eligible candidates may be considered for scholarship funding to offset travel costs.

Download  the Call for Papers: 2018 Nasher Prize Graduate Symposium (PDF)

Proposals are due by Monday, January 15, 2018.

Submit a proposal



Presenting Sponsor: JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Founding Partners: The Eugene McDermott Foundation and Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger

The Dallas Foundation is the Presenting Sponsor of Nasher Prize Month, with additional support generously provided by The Donna Wilhelm Family Fund. The Heart of Neiman Marcus Foundation is the Arts Youth Education Sponsor of Nasher Prize Month.