Preview: Theaster Gates in Season 8 of ART21 "Art in the Twenty-First Century" (2016)

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In this preview from the "Chicago" episode of Season 8 of "Art in the Twenty-First Century," artist Theaster Gates creates work for a 2016 installation at Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria. Shown applying tar to materials such as doll heads and a vintage "Ebony" magazine cover, Gates states, "In these things that we imagine don't have value are things that we simply stop seeing as having had value."

Theaster Gates creates sculptures with clay, tar, and renovated buildings, transforming the raw material of urban neighborhoods into radically reimagined vessels of opportunity for the community. Establishing a virtuous circle between fine art and social progress, Gates strips dilapidated buildings of their components, transforming those elements into sculptures that act as bonds or investments, the proceeds of which are used to finance the rehabilitation of entire city blocks. Many of the artist’s works evoke his African-American identity and the broader struggle for civil rights, from sculptures incorporating fire hoses, to events organized around soul food, and choral performances by the experimental musical ensemble Black Monks of Mississippi, led by Gates himself.

Learn more about the artist at:

Watch the FULL EPISODE online ( or from PBS streaming apps (

Season 8 of "Art in the Twenty-First Century" premiered with the "Chicago" episode on Friday, September 16, 2016 at 9:00 p.m. on PBS.

Learn more about Season 8 at: