A musical project inspired by the objects and artworks collected by Theaster Gates at the Stony Island Arts Bank in Chicago.
"Engaging with these archives and encountering Theaster Gates and his practice has changed how I think about myself as an artist and what the possibilities of my work can be."
-Corinne Bailey Rae
New York Transit Queen
New Single from Black Rainbows
"This music has come through seeing. Seeing has been like hearing, for me. While I was looking, songs/sounds appeared."
-Corinne Bailey Rae
Corinne Bailey RaeCorinne Bailey Rae
Black Rainbows is the result of a several years long conversation between Corinne Bailey Rae and the objects and happenings in the Stoney Island Arts Bank, Chicago.
"I knew when I walked through those doors that my life had changed forever."
Situated at the Great Grand Crossing neighbourhood of Chicago's South Side, Stoney Island Arts Bank is a cathedral to Black Art, a curated collection of Black archives comprising books, sculpture, records, furniture and problematic objects from America's past. As well as being a site for archive, the Arts bank is also a place for convening. Bailey Rae attended The Black Artists Retreat there in 2017 and performed in the space.
"I saw scores for songs written during slavery times, 1000's of Black books in a double height library, a Nick Cave Sound Suit, just hanging on the wall, postcards, glass slides, ceramic objects, African masks, contemporary sculpture, and everything so tactile, wood, glass, marble, stone, ceramic, leather. The objects were talking to me. While I was on my tour bus, driving through America, all I could think about was that space. I had to get back."
Wide ranging in it's themes, Black Rainbows' subjects are drawn from encounters with objects in the Arts Bank. Taking us from the rock hewn churches of Ethiopia, to the journeys of Black Pioneers Westward, from Miss New York Transit 1957, to how the sunset appears from Harriet Jacobs' loophole. Black Rainbows explores Black femininity, Spell Work, Inner Space/Outer Space, time collapse and ancestors, the erasure Black childhood and music as a vessel for transcendence.
"Engaging with these archives and encountering Theaster Gates and his practice has changed how I think about myself as an artist and what the possibilities of my work can be.” Like all historical objects, these refuse to stay quiet, they continue to speak, and their presence is required in present conversation."
"Exploring the Arts Bank has unlocked something in me. I have followed my scholarly interests and allowed them to bleed into and inform my music. This obsessional journey has led me from Chicago to Betye Saar in Milan, Soul of a Nation in New York, The Venice Biennale to see Amanda Williams, Arthur Jaffa in LA, Senga Nengudi in Leeds, Noah Davis at the Underground Museum, Kerry James Marshall, Chicago, and of course, Theaster's own work in exhibitions in Paris, London, Basel and Liverpool. Contemporary Black Art has spoken to me. This music has come through seeing. Seeing has been like hearing, for me. While I was looking, songs/sounds appeared."
Stony Island Arts Bank
Stony Island Arts Bank
Designed by William Gibbons Uffendell and built in 1923, the bank at 68th and Stony Island was once a vibrant community savings and loan. Today, the restored Stony Island Arts Bank provides the South Side of Chicago with 17,000 square feet of space for innovation in contemporary art and archival practice. At the time of its construction, the bank was a symbol of the growing prosperity of the South Side, which was experiencing a building boom in the early decades of the 20th century. In 1979, the Bank was closed and it fell into disrepair. In 2012, upon threat of demolition, artist Theaster Gates purchased the building from the City of Chicago for $1. Gates, whose practice harnesses the power of space, objects and the spirit within them, saved the landmark from destruction. Gates sold marble from the original Bank build as “bank bonds” on the commercial art market to finance the renovation and remediation of the building.
Today, the Stony Island Arts Bank is a vibrant hub of artistic, archival and cultural activity on the South Side of Chicago. In addition to serving as a gallery, institution and cultural space, the Arts Bank also hosts a variety of events including exhibitions, performances, film screenings, and lectures.
Theaster Gates
Theaster Gates is an artist and social innovator invested in translating the intricacies of Blackness through space theory and land development, sculpture, and performance. Through the expansiveness of his approach as a thinker, maker, and builder, he extends the role of the artist as an agent of change. His performance practice and visual work find roots in Black knowledge, objects, history, and archives. In all aspects of his work, he contends with the notion of Black space as a formal exercise – one defined by collective desire, artistic agency, and the tactics of a pragmatist. In 2010, Gates created the Rebuild Foundation, a nonprofit platform for art, cultural development, and neighborhood transformation that supports artists and strengthens communities through free arts programming and innovative cultural amenities in the Grand Crossing neighborhood of the South Side of Chicago.
Gates has exhibited and performed at The New Museum, New York, (2022); The Aichi Triennial, Tokoname (2022); The Serpentine Pavilion, London (2022); The Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK (2021); Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK (2013 and 2021); Tate Liverpool, UK (2020); Haus der Kunst, Munich (2020); Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2019); Palais de Tokyo Paris, France (2019); Sprengel Museum Hannover, Germany (2018); Kunstmuseum Basel, Switzerland (2018); National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., USA (2017); Art Gallery of Ontario, Canada (2016); Fondazione Prada, Milan, Italy (2016); Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria (2016); Punta della Dogana, Venice, Italy (2013); and dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel, Germany (2012). Gates is the recipient of numerous awards and honorary degrees including the Frederick Kiesler Prize for Architecture and the Arts (2022); an Honorary Fellowship from the Royal Institute of British Architects (2021); the World Economic Forum Crystal Award (2020); J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development (2018); Nasher Sculpture Prize (2018); Sprengel Museum Kurt Schwitters Prize (2017); and Artes Mundi 6 Prize (2015). In April 2018, Gates was appointed as the inaugural Distinguished Visiting Artist and Director of Artist Initiatives at the Lunder Institute for American Art, Colby College, Waterville Maine. He was the Visiting Artist in Residence at the American Academy in Rome (2020); and was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2021. Gates is a professor at the University of Chicago in the Department of Visual Arts and serves as the Special Advisor to the President for Arts Initiatives.
Corinne Bailey Rae - Black Rainbows
  1. A Spell, A Prayer
  2. Black Rainbows
  3. Erasure
  4. Earthlings
  5. Red Horse
  6. New York Transit Queen
  7. He Will Follow You With His Eyes
  8. Put It Down
  9. Peach Velvet Sky
  10. Before The Throne Of The Invisible God
Black Rainbows
Releases on Vinyl and CD September 15th, 2023
Art Direction
Amanda Williams
An African American artist and architect, recently named a 2022 MacArthur Fellow. Her work has been exhibited at MOMA, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, The Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, and more.
Koto Bolofo
Born in South Africa and raised in Great Britain, Bolofo has photographed for Vogue, Vanity Fair, GQ, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Dom Pérignon and more. He has created Award-Winning short films and was the recipient of the 2022 Lucie Award for Achievement in advertising in photography.