In the past decade, Justin Tate has created more than a hundred projects in over twenty countries. He incorporates architecture, carpentry, botany, cooking, electronics, chemistry, and new media into his site-specific installations. Born in Canada and raised in the United States, Tate earned a BFA from NSCAD University in Nova Scotia and an MFA from the Helsinki Academy of Fine Arts with a concentration in sculpture, installation, media, and performance.
Justin describes his ecologically driven projects as “experiments in social design and creative place-making, used to interact with, learn from, and give back to their local environment.” While creating site-specific work, from Michigan and Helsinki to Taiwan, South America, and Australia, Justin pushes himself to meet the challenges of location by using accessible tools and repurposed materials. He is inspired by the experience of immersing himself in an unknown place.
“I don't want to make art which is easily definable, or to produce commercial work,” Justin tells NOT REAL ART. “I only want to make interesting things in places which most people have never heard of, while I get to know the people who live in those places […] I appreciate that I am able to make work that some people find interesting and to do it in a professional and sustainable matter. So long as I can keep working in this way, and always challenging myself in the process, then I will be very content with my practice.”
Ranging from sheltering spaces to four-legged installations made of logs, mushrooms, plants, and construction debris, Justin’s anthropomorphic structures have a sense of irony and play. Driven by an innate sense of curiosity and exploration, the artist cherishes the connections he makes while creating environmentally concerned work around the globe.
“I don't want to make art which is easily definable, or to produce commercial work.” — Justin Tate
All photos published with permission of the artist(s).
Our Artist of the Day series is a regular feature highlighting artworks from the 100s of grant applications we receive. The NOT REAL ART grant is an annual award designed to empower the careers of contemporary artists. Find out more about our grant program here.