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Theaster Gates, a visual artist with a background in urban art, will serve as a visiting artist and director of artist initiatives at the Lunder Institute for American Art at Colby College in Waterville. Sharon Corwin, director of the Colby College Museum of Art, announced the appointment Wednesday afternoon.

“Artists can often change our perspective of things, and they can help us see things differently. Theaster Gates will help us see our world very differently,” Corwin said. “We’re thrilled to have someone who thinks and creates in a wholly innovative way.”

His appointment is for three years, during which time he will maintain a studio in Waterville and convene artists and thinkers from around the world for retreats and other art-related activities involving students, faculty and the wider communities of Colby, Waterville and Maine, Corwin said.

The Colby museum established the Lunder Institute for American Art last year. Among the institute’s goals is providing time and space for artists to reflect, innovate, create and convene. Gates is best known for creating sculptures with discarded materials, and his art has been displayed around the world, including at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the National Gallery of Art and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Last fall, he won the $100,000 Nasher Prize, awarded by the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas, Texas.