Writing in 2015 about the Chicago Architecture Biennial, Cathy Lang Ho described Theaster Gates as "a new kind of hybrid professional himself—an artist, trained as a planner, as inspiring as a preacher, an accidental developer, property manager, and arts administrator—who in restoring pieces of architecture has restored whole neighborhoods." So it should be no surprise that the newest exhibition of his work, which examines the deeper meaning behind ordinary found objects, has strong ties to the built environment as well. In "Theaster Gates: The Minor Arts," which opens Sunday at the recently renovated National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., his media—slate roof tiles, wood flooring from a gym, and tar—come from architecture, and two of the pieces even create new built forms from reclaimed materials. Slate Corridor for Possibility of Speaking in Tongues and Depositing Ghetto Reliquary (2017) is a not-quite-vertical, 20-foot-tall assembly of slate roof tiles, formerly installed at Chicago's St. Laurence Church. Another piece, New Egypt Sanctuary of the Holy Word and Image (2017), creates a narrow library interior set on marble flooring from that same church, defined by shelves of bound Ebony magazine issues with the spines facing inward.
"Theaster Gates: The Minor Arts," part of the National Gallery of Art's "In the Tower" series, opens on March 5 and runs through Sept. 4, 2017.