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As a self-taught artist, I’ve always found inspiration through my daily surroundings. The techniques I use are intuitive. I’ve always had a kinship for folksy aesthetics, outsiders and although frowned upon in my working-class upbringing; individualism. My art is personal and sometimes whimsical, but my emotions are universal. I create what I cannot verbally commit to, a truism that is always in motion. I give voice to complex issues by using familiarity e.g. punch holes from junk mail, cardboard shoe inserts from a former employee or paper bag handles from the grocer to express a longing for community.

- Marvin Tate


Born in Chicago on December 27, 1959, artist Marvin Tate is known for his biographical art in the form of assemblage, portraits and landscapes composed of found objects and fragments from everyday life. A North Lawndale native, Tate grew up in a home without a TV or radio, where the family entertained one another with songbooks and reading aloud. Tate remembers hours spent exploring abandoned buildings, walking the streets of changing neighborhoods and playing in his mother’s closet, all existential journeys filled with fear, excitement and materials that would later inform his work.


Intuitiveness guides Tate's work, which is rooted in folklore, the culture of storefront churches, a distant train or a bevy of geese flying over North Lawndale. Finding beauty and subtlety in “ev’day” life, objects and people is inherent in Tate’s narrative, which speaks of personal and family history while addressing a broader collective memory through social and political commentary. 

Assemblages are made up of preformed natural or manufactured materials, objects, or fragments not intended as art materials. The inclusion of real objects and materials both expand the range of artistic possibilities and attempt to bridge the gap between art and life.


Curator William Seitz once wrote: “Every work of art is an incarnation (personification): an investment of matter with spirit. The term assemblage has been singled out with this duality in mind, to denote not only a specific technical procedure and form used in the plastic arts, but also a complex of attitudes and ideas. (…).


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