In The Absence of Light: Gesture, Humor and Resistance in The Black Aesthetic

In partnership with EXPO CHICAGO, Art in America, and the Beth Rudin DeWoody Collection, Rebuild Foundation is proud to present the exhibition In The Absence of Light: Gesture, Humor and Resistance in The Black Aesthetic at Stony Island Arts Bank.

Organized by Theaster Gates, in collaboration with Beth Rudin DeWoody and Laura Dvorkin, this exhibition seeks to bring together artistic practices that not only reveal some sense of interiority, but by their very nature, reflect distance through laughter, painting gesture and isolation.

Rebuild Foundation partnered with the Beth Rudin DeWoody Collection’s substantial contemporary African diaspora collection to share works by over 20 of today’s most important practitioners within the contemporary art world. The exhibition is anchored by works by Glenn Ligon, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye and Henry Taylor. For four months, the Stony Island Arts Bank will host these seminal artists along with artist talks, curated walk throughs, public discussions and film series.

The exhibition will be on view from September 19, 2019 through January 5, 2020.


Artist Talk: In the Absence of Light

December, 28 – 1:30 – 3:00pm

Stony Island Arts Bank


Please join us for a special closing discussion for In the Absence of Light: Gesture, Humor, and Resistance in the Black Aesthetic. Artist Nate Young and Art Historian Danny Dunson will reflect upon the significant works in the exhibition, and discuss the particular challenges and opportunities that exist for artists of color in the contemporary art world.

First come, first serve. RSVP here.



  • Opening Reception | September 19, 5:00pm – 8:00pm
  • Artist talk: Sarah Douglas in Conversation with Theaster Gates and Beth Rudin DeWoody | September 21, 12:00pm – 1:00pm


About the Rebuild Foundation

Rebuild Foundation is an arts, education and cultural development organization committed to transforming urban communities. Founded by artist Theaster Gates, the organization support artists and strengthens communities by providing free arts programming, creating new cultural amenities and developing affordable housing, studio and live-work spaces. Rebuild Foundation also serves as a platform for other mission-aligned organizations by providing space, support and partnership around common goals.

About Beth Rudin DeWoody

Beth Rudin DeWoody, art collector and curator, resides between Los Angeles, New York City and West Palm Beach. She is President of The Rudin Family Foundations and Executive Vice President of Rudin Management. Her Board affiliations include the Whitney Museum of American Art, Hammer Museum, The New School, The Glass House, Empowers Africa, New Yorkers for Children, and The New York City Police Foundation. She is an Honorary Trustee at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and on the Photography Steering Committee at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach. In December 2017, DeWoody opened a private art space in West Palm Beach, which presents viewable storage of her collection, as well as exhibitions. The space also holds private tours and events.

The Collection has been the subject of exhibitions featured at the Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach and the Parrish Museum, Southampton, among other institutions. Recently on view at the Taubman Museum of Art, Roanoke was Reclamation! Pan-African Works from the Beth Rudin DeWoody Collection. In December 2017, DeWoody opened The Bunker Artspace in West Palm Beach, Florida to present viewable storage of her collection, as well as annual exhibitions.


Opening the fall art season each September, EXPO CHICAGO, The International Exposition of Contemporary & Modern Art features leading international galleries alongside one of the highest quality platforms for contemporary art and culture. Hosted within Navy Pier’s Festival Hall, EXPO CHICAGO’s eighth edition will take place September 19 – 22, 2019, in alignment with the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial (September 19, 2019 – January 5, 2020). EXPO CHICAGO presents a diverse program, including /Dialogues (presented in partnership with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago) and Exchange by Northern Trust, an unrivaled talks program for both public and VIP audiences; IN/SITU, dynamic on-site installations highlighting large-scale sculpture, film, and site-specific work; and major public art initiatives, including IN/SITU Outside, public art installed throughout Chicago Park District locations, and OVERRIDE, a curated selection of international artists throughout the city’s digital billboard network. The EXPO CHICAGO program also features an unprecedented commitment to host curatorial initiatives during the exposition, including the Curatorial Forum in partnership with Independent Curators International (ICI), and the Curatorial Exchange, which partners with foreign agencies and consulates to expand the exposition’s global reach. EXPO CHICAGO is the publisher of THE SEEN, Chicago’s only international journal of contemporary and modern art criticism, online and in print.

EXPO CHICAGO is presented by Art Expositions, LLC. Under the leadership of President and Director Tony Karman, EXPO CHICAGO draws upon the city’s rich history as a vibrant international cultural destination, while highlighting the region’s contemporary arts community and inspiring its collector base. For more information on EXPO CHICAGO and EXPO ART WEEK (September 16 – 22, 2019) visit


Image: Glenn Ligon, Study for Negro Sunshine #88, 2012, oil stick, coal dust and gesso on paper, 12 x 9 inches (30.5 x 22.9 cm) Collection of Beth DeWoody, NY, Photographer Credit: Luhring Augustine © Glenn Ligon; Courtesy of the artist, Hauser & Wirth, New York, Regen Projects, Los Angeles, Thomas Dane Gallery, London and Chantal Crousel, Paris