The Black Artists Retreat [B.A.R.] is an annual convening of black visual artists held in Chicago, IL. Initiated by Theaster Gates and Eliza Myrie in 2013, the Retreat brings together 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 Theaster 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.
In September 2017, the Retreat marks its fifth anniversary. 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.