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$1 million artwork by Chicago artist planned for CTA’s 95th Street L terminal

Artist Theaster Gates. | Lloyd de Grane~University Chicago Magazine.

Artist Theaster Gates. | Lloyd de Grane~University of Chicago Magazine.

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The CTA’s 95th Street Red Line terminal may be a little easier on the eyes by 2016.

Artwork by South Side artist Theaster Gates is expected to be installed at the station as part of the transit agency’s $240 million Red Line reconstruction work, which is scheduled to begin next year.

The $1.3 million art project, which Gates hopes will spark conversation about “space and predominately African-African neighborhoods,” will include significant community involvement, art production jobs and an apprenticeship program for students.

“People understand that public art has an important role in city life,” CTA spokesman Brian Steele said Friday. “We want them to be actively involved in this.”

Gates’ creation at the 95th Street station will include an architectural component that will be integrated into the structure of the building, as well as independent pieces.

Gates, who currently serves the director of the Arts and Public Life Initiative at the University of Chicago, said he imagines a project that will encourage students who attend schools near the 95th Street terminal to follow the development of the design and art construction.

“We will be conceiving an idea for the entire station. It would be great to have high schools and elementary schools follow the progress. It’s valuable for them to understand how the process works,” said Gates, who won the Wall Street Journal Magazine’s Innovator of the Year award last year.

Steele said Gates, who is also part of the design team for the terminal reconstruction project, emerged as the ideal choice because of his previous work in Chicago, which includes converting buildings on Dorchester Avenue into a library, slide archive and kitchen.

The contract for the artwork is expected to be approved by the CTA board at Monday’s meeting.

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