Theaster Gates’s art tells American history through forgotten moments and overlooked places. Using the urban environment as his medium, he works with discarded castoffs of everyday life, including old tools, unwanted magazines, and abandoned buildings.
In his Ground rules series, the artist repurposes salvaged remains of gymnasium floors taken from high schools that have been decommissioned by the city of Chicago, where he lives and works. For Gates, the rules represented by the athletic markings on a gym floor are a crucial way in which children learn a larger social order; a lack of access to gyms becomes, over time, a lack of understanding of the rules both big and small.
Gates preserves the floors and subjects them to a new order. Ground rules. Free throw reorients the floor to appear as a work of art. He scrambles the planks, creating long stripes of green and flecks of black, white, red, and blue within the wooden field. As a result, he gives the heavy, scuffed floor the staccato lightness of geometric abstraction. Joining references to color field painting with movement on a basketball court, Gates merges art and sport with life in a Southside Chicago community.
Ground rules. Free throw
- 120 × 180 in. (304.8 × 457.2 cm)
© 2015, Theaster Gates
- Credit Line
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Museum purchase through the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment
- Mediums Description
- wooden flooring
- Recreation – sport and play – basketball
- Object Number
- Linked Open Data
- Linked Open Data URI