Mayor Emanuel and CTA Unveil Art Concepts for 95th Street Terminal

July 13, 2017

Internationally Known, Chicago-Based Artist Theaster Gates to Create One-of-a-Kind Art Installation for Signature CTA Station, Creating Jobs and Promoting Community

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Transit Authority President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. today unveiled the first look at artwork concepts that will be the centerpiece of the new 95th Street Red Line Terminal that is now under construction.

Created by internationally recognized, Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates — the two artworks include a pair of large tapestries made from colorful strips of decommissioned fire hoses that are sewn together, as well as a first-of-its-kind radio station and DJ booth that will broadcast over the 95th Street station’s PA system, and possibly in the future via an internet radio station.

“This is an historic opportunity to create world-class artwork and promote community engagement in a once-in-a-generation project on Chicago’s South Side,” Mayor Emanuel said. “This initiative combines the talents of an internationally recognized artist with a program that creates jobs and provides on-the-job training and skills development to both workers and students.”

The artwork will complement the new 95th Street bus and rail terminal to create a signature transportation hub and become an anchor for economic opportunity on Chicago’s South Side. Originally opened in 1969, the 95th Street Terminal is a major gateway to Chicago’s South Side, and one of CTA’s busiest rail stations with 24-hour Red Line service and more than 1,000 CTA and Pace bus trips on an average weekday.

“In addition to providing a safer, more convenient and more pleasant environment for our customers, this new terminal will serve as a vibrant community anchor that will encourage new businesses, drive economic development and reflect the local community,” CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. said. “The new terminal will create jobs while complementing a 21st century rider experience.”

The project will create the largest display of public artwork in CTA’s history. It is expected to create 10 jobs responsible for the production of the artwork, including an apprenticeship program for local students that will promote skills development and training. When completed it will be the 72nd art installation to go into a CTA station.

The new works of art by Gates will be created in conjunction with the Rebuild Foundation and the University of Chicago’s Arts + Public Life program to incorporate job creation, skills training and significant engagement with local community residents. 

The tapestries, named, “america america” are slated to be installed in the new south terminal building. The radio station and DJ booth, titled AESOP (An Extended Song of Our People), will be located in the north terminal.

As part of Mayor Emanuel’s “Red Ahead” program to revitalize the entire Red Line, CTA is replacing the cramped, outdated structure at 95th Street with a modern, airy and expanded terminal featuring a bold design. The new terminal will feature passenger structures on both the north and south sides of 95th Street, connected by an enclosed pedestrian walkway.

Incorporating a bold red color on the station exterior, which will reflect the rail line it serves, the terminal will also feature expanded, covered bus bays and wider sidewalks to reduce congestion and improve pedestrian safety. The new structure also includes additional elevators and escalators.

Funded by local, state and federal dollars, the project will be fully completed by the end of 2018. The new south terminal building will be completed before the new north terminal building.

Theaster Gates is an internationally acclaimed artist whose practice includes object making as well as performance that engages critically with cultural history, contemporary socio-political currents, and community building. To more actively and directly connect with the communities central to his artistic output, Mr. Gates created the Arts + Public Life program and the Rebuild Foundation, nonprofit organizations that leverage art’s greatest asset—its ability to spark dialogue—to support, enliven, and revitalize underinvested neighborhoods. In 2012, the Wall Street Journal recognized Mr. Gates as Arts Innovator of the Year, and he was honored as the Commissioned Artist of the New York Armory Show and featured at Documenta (13), the international art festival in Kassel, Germany.


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