Urban Artists Make Cities Their Canvases
There was a time when “public art” consisted of putting up a statue in a heavily trafficked part of a city to commemorate some often long-gone historical figure. Now the city landscape itself has become an artistic medium, and few artists are more adept at using it than Janet Echelman and Theaster Gates.
“Gone are the days when artists had to just be in their studios and paint and sculpt,” declares Gates. “Gone are the days when urban planners and designers could only be tools of the wealthy developer.” In his roles as director of Arts + Public Life at the University of Chicago and director of the Rebuild Foundation, Gates has transformed parts of the South Side of Chicago into a large-scale artists’ workshop where abandoned buildings are restored and renovated into community spaces.