Is Theaster Gates America’s most exciting artist?

Though he has produced pottery and paintings, sculptures, music and video works, Theaster Gates is best known, as we put it in our new monograph, for projects that “bridge the gap between art and life and encourage change by reaching beyond a traditional art audience.”

He saved remnants of derelict churches, created black-tar paintings in tribute to his father (a retired roofer), founded his own quasi-religious music group, The Black Monks of Mississippi, and repurposed, decommissioned fire hoses, of the kind used to spray civil rights protestors, into handsome, near-abstract collages. In each instance, a work’s success feeds back into a greater civic scheme that underlies almost everything Gates does.

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