03/19/2012 02:05 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Artist and Cultural Planner, Theaster Gates

Artist and Cultural Planner, Theaster Gates, has an incredible presence. I interviewed him for Fear No ART and when seeing this man's studio and talking about his background, I finally understood his large and simple vision. Theaster brings together the disciplines of ceramics, urban planning and religious studies to focus on the concept of transformation and re-imagining possibilities in his artwork of sculptures made from the gutted materials of his rehabbed home on Chicago's South side.

Theaster has been enjoying enormous success as of late and there have been write-ups of his philosophy, performances and art in The Chicago Reader, Art in America, The New York Times and Art Review. He will be performing with Spoken Word and Dance Artist, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, at the MCA in April and was recently named the Director of New Arts and Public Life Initiative at the University of Chicago.

Enjoy part one of this two-part interview and hear Theaster explain that finding something special and highlighting the ordinary is as simple as deciding to see beauty and continuing his family upbringing.

In part two of this interview, appearing next month, Theaster discusses The Dorchester Project, his performance art and the art of community.

For tickets to the March 26 Fear No ART presents The Dinner Party, click here.