This video produced by Mapp International shows Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates working in a studio during his residency at UNC Chapel Hill in 2010.
Theaster is part-potter, part-singer, part performance artist. This film hits all three of those roles as Gates shapes a vessel while singing and then relating a personal story about his family trying to keep his mother healthy while she had a heart condition. Some of his family members allowed her to stay on a machine during this time, while others would urge her to keep her heart strong by keeping active and not relying on the machine entirely. The acknowledgment of mortality at the close of the video is peaceful, resigned, without guilt or regret. It reaches its climax as the vessel Gates is working on achieves its fullest form. Theaster’s portion is followed by still images from the Life is Living Festival in Chicago.