Civil tapestries and one-of-a-kind radio station part of larger, long-term art program envisioned by the South Side artist to engage community members and create new jobs
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago Transit Board Chairman Terry Peterson and CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. today joined world-renowned, Chicago artist Theaster Gates in officially unveiling two new, one-of-a-kind works of art commissioned for the recently completed 95th/Dan Ryan Terminal, located at the southernmost end of the Red Line, CTA’s most-heavily traveled rail line.
“A world-class transportation hub such as the newly renovated 95th Terminal deserves to be enhanced with world-class art such as that created by Chicago’s own Theaster Gates,” said Mayor Emanuel. “An internationally-renowned artist, Mr. Gates’ artwork will add an element of community and collaboration to this important South Side rail station."
Displayed at the South Terminal is artist Theaster Gates’ visual piece, america, america, a pair of large tapestries made from decommissioned fire hoses. The civil tapestries were created by the artist to formally materialize the history of the civil rights struggle in the U.S. The work also serves as a reminder of struggle and acknowledgment that the work of equity and equality is an ongoing effort not carried by one people but by all.
The artists’ performance space and radio station, called An Extended Song of Our People (AESOP), is located in the North Terminal and is the first of its kind public broadcast studio/disc jockey (DJ) booth. Occupying a dedicated 200 square foot space inside the North Terminal, AESOP will provide riders with real-time programming, including an on-site DJ. Programming will be broadcast over the 95th Street Station’s public address system, and possibly via an internet radio station sometime in the future.
“We are proud and honored to have the impactful and thought-provoking artwork of world-renowned artist Theaster Gates displayed at the 95th Street station,” said CTA President Dorval R. Carter. “By creating a visually stunning piece, as well as an interactive DJ booth, Mr. Gates has transformed the southernmost Red Line station into a vibrant community hub where local artists, and musicians can share their work with the greater Chicago area.”
Theaster Gates’ unique art pieces represent not only the largest public artwork project in CTA’s history, but helped establish local jobs, employment training and promoted community involvement in the South Side.
"I am honored every chance I get to create art in my community,” said artist Theaster Gates. “My goal for the installation was to create a work that could absorb the memories and hopes of riders through music, and shift what we imagine a work of public art should be. It’s not only monumental objects. Public art can also be a way of harnessing the many voices of our people. The radio station will do that."
Under the leadership of Mayor Emanuel, 60 new art installations have been announced or installed across the entire system – more than doubling CTA’s collection of public art, which includes mosaics, art glass and sculptures created by nationally and internationally acclaimed artists, many of whom are local. Upon completion of all announced projects, a total of 98 (68%) CTA rail stations will feature artwork and significant architectural details
The artwork serves as a finishing touch to the $280 million 95th Terminal Reconstruction Project, which generated thousands of jobs and created a new state-of-the-art transit facility that serves as a landmark for Chicago’s Far South Side. This project is the latest in more than $8 billion of transit investments made by Mayor Emanuel and CTA since 2011, including a number of station and track projects on the Red Line.
For additional project information, visit: http://www.transitchicago.com/95thTerminal/.
About the artist
Theaster Gates lives and works in Chicago. Gates creates work that focuses on space theory and land development, sculpture and performance. Drawing on his interest and training in urban planning and preservation, Gates redeems spaces that have been left behind.
Known for his recirculation of art-world capital, Gates creates work focused on the possibility of the “life within things.” Gates smartly upturns art values, land values, and human values. 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.
Gates has exhibited and performed at 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); Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK (2013); Punta della Dogana, Venice, Italy (2013) and dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel, Germany (2012). He was the winner of the Artes Mundi 6 prize and was a recipient of the Légion d'Honneur in 2017. He was recently awarded the Nasher Prize for Sculpture 2018, as well as the Urban Land Institute, J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development.
Gates is a professor at the University of Chicago in the Department of Visual Arts, and serves as Senior Advisor for Cultural Innovation and Advisor to the Dean at the Harris School of Public Policy.
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