Theaster Gates has developed an expanded artistic practice that includes space development, object making, performance and critical engagement with many publics. Gates transforms spaces, institutions, traditions, and perceptions.
Gates's training as an urban planner and sculptor, and subsequent time spent studying clay, has given him keen awareness of the poetics of production and systems of organizing. Playing with these poetic and systematic interests, Gates has assembled gospel choirs, formed temporary unions, and used systems of mass production as a way of underscoring the need that industry has for the body.
Gates refers to his working method as 'critique through collaboration' and his projects often stretch the form of what we usually understand visual art to be. His focus is also on the availability of information and the cross-fertilization of ideas. His multi-faceted exhibitions investigate themes of race and history through sculpture, installation, performance and two-dimensional works, furthering the artist's interest in a critique of social practice, shared economies and the question of objects in relation to political and cultural thought.