Welcome to the FIFTH annual Retreat for Black Artists, an artist led initiative convening black visual artists in Chicago. 

Guided by the tenets of fellowship, rejuvenation, and intellectual rigor, the Retreat strives to create time and space for an intergenerational community of black visual artists to engage outside of the institutional environment.

[Historian Geneviéve] Fabre contends that black commemorative celebrations were oriented toward both a past and future, suggesting that “it’s mood was subjective, the ought and should prevailed over the was: with a feeling of urgency, of great importance, at the renewed delay, African Americans invented a future no one dared to consider and forced its image upon black and white mind and spirits.”
— Mabel O. Wilson

A Brief History of the Retreat for Black Artists

Initiated by Theaster Gates and Eliza Myrie in 2013, The Black Artists Retreat [B.A.R.] was an annual convening of black artists, working in many forms, and those who believe in and support black artists.

Gates’ clear ambition to gather and strategize en masse, outside of any institution, was matched by Myrie’s goal of motivating intergenerational dialogue amongst artists of color. These ideas ultimately led to a larger discussion, incorporating artists Carrie Mae Weems and Sarah Workneh as advisors, about how contemporary artists of color foster collaboration and generosity.

From this initial seed, The Black Artists Retreat [B.A.R.] was born with the goal of creating time and space for a community to engage outside of the institutional environment. Each year, this artist-led initiative is guided by the tenets of fellowship, rejuvenation, and intellectual rigor. Underwritten by Gates and Rebuild Foundation, The Retreat is hosted across spaces within the Rebuild ecosystem in Chicago, IL. Guests are invited to think, learn, and party during this moment of evolution and growth.

This year, we mark our fifth anniversary as The Retreat for Black Artists. What started as a fledgling idea that aimed to bring artists from around the country to kick around a couple of big ideas—has grown into a platform where celebrated and emerging artists from around the world can self-convene and grow together in their fields.

And, as always, we’ll convene to reflect on and celebrate the achievements of the past and imagine the future and the possibilities of tomorrow.