Carver Bank

A place for dialog and cultural interchange

  • Type Cultural
  • Location Omaha, Nebraska
  • Status Completed
  • Date 2013
  • Project Partners

    Bemis Center for Contemporary Arst:
    Hesse McGraw, Chief Curator
    Alex Priest
    Jessica Scheuerman
    Sean Ward

    ReBuild Foundation:
    Theaster Gates
    Charlie Vinz

    Big Mama’s Sandwich Shop:
    Patricia “Big Mama” Barron

    Brand Metal Works:
    Greg Brand
    Susan Johnson
    John Schramm


“Omaha, Nebraska is a segregated city with extreme disparities between class and opportunity. Omaha claims the greatest number of millionaires per capita, yet is also home to the highest percentage of black children living in poverty of any city in the country. These demographic conditions are starkly present in North Omaha, the poorest and most concentrated African-American community in the city.” In response to this neglected environment, the Carver Bank is an effort to develop a new cultural space for the community. The project supported workspace for 3 artists, an exhibition and event space and the new Big Mama’s Sandwich Shop. Curated and organized by Hesse McGraw, chief curator at the Bemis Center in partnership with Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates and his Rebuild Foundation, the goal of Carver Bank is to establish a “space of public participation and cultural adventure.” The project is a social sculpture that offers a road to renewal, but it does not provide all of the answers, just a place for dialog and cultural interchange.

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At the Carver Bank, FACT transformed a series of exterior spaces to server artists working in the Carver Bank facility, patrons of Big Mama’s, and the general public (the spaces are open to the parking lot and street). In parallel with the design phase, students sourced recycled building materials for new construction and collaborated with Brand Metals for custom fabrications. The project integrates a diverse range of partners including Theaster Gates, Bemis Center Staff, builders, neighborhood assistants, high school students engaged in community service and others.

Design charrette at the Bemis Center; FACT leading National Day Of Service work with area high school students.

Shou Sugi Ban, charring reclaimed cedar to make bench/planter cladding.

Installing recycled brick path and patio.

Native Omaha Days, performance at the Carver Bank garden.

Project Team

Daniel Conces, Taylor Hammack, Matthew Kreutzer, Dennis Krymuza, Nicole Maass, Matthiew Machietto, Amanda Mejstrik, Christopher Paulsen, Nolan Stevens, Heather Tomasek, Tristan Vetter, Kylie Von Seggern, Trevor Watson

Photography By Hero image by Mike Machian, other photographs by FACT.
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