From clay to community: Theaster Gates on the challenge of blight in Grand Crossings, Chicago at TED2015

This is a really intriguing article talking about a persons expansion from their practise as a potter to someone who shapes cities. Starting with super basic materials, at the lowest level of form or materiality and transforming it into something bigger, meaningful and beautiful. It is inspiring the reader to get up and get into changing their community for the better, to go and shape the material that is their local, their community, their urban environment. From clay to cities.

TED Blog

Theaster Gates speaks at TED2015 - Truth and Dare, Session 7. Photo: Bret Hartman/TED Theaster Gates speaks at TED2015: Truth and Dare, Session 7. Photo: Bret Hartman/TED

“Beauty is a basic service,” says artist Theaster Gates. He brought the audience to its feet this morning during Creative Ignition at TED, as he told the story of how he went from shaper of clay to shaper of cities.

For fifteen years Gates made pots, “which might seem like a humble vocation,” he says. But in this work, “You very quickly learn how to make great things out of nothing.” When Gates’ father retired from roofing at 80, for example, he gave his son his tar kettle. The younger Gates reimagined this low “nothing material” and elevated it, turning the tar into a series of paintings.

Gates then turned his sights to a different material: the crumbling neighborhood of Grand Crossing on Chicago’s South Side. Gates was disheartened by failing houses there — what he calls…

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