Protect the planet, Dredske urges with his ‘Spaceship Earth’ mural in North Lawndale
The artist — real name Terence Byas — says the mural also is meant to honor author R. Buckminster Fuller and Mae Jemison, the first Black woman in space.
Chicago’s murals & mosaics
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Dredske — real name Terence Byas — pays homage to Fuller with the mural he titled “Spaceship Earth (Space Cadet)” at 2969 W. 19th St. in North Lawndale.
Picturing an astronaut surrounded by orbiting planets, he says he was making a statement about the need for environmental sustainability and an “appreciation for Earth.”
“Just like a spaceship,” he says, people have to protect the planet.
Dredske, who painted the mural in November 2021, says he also was aiming to honor Mae Jemison, the first Black woman in space.
The woman, there to “represent humanity,” has one green eye and one brown — a nod to a scene in “2001: A Space Odyssey” in which the characters’ eyes change colors with every blink.
Dredske says he likes to pull from pop culture and make ties to historical figures.
“I put all the stuff in the pot,” he says. “Hopefully, the soup’s good. You don’t have to know where we got the bouillon cubes or how long the peppers are aged or anything like that. But, as long as they can appreciate the mixture, the job is done.”
Dredske, 39, grew up in Back of the Yards and now lives in Bridgeport. He says people can interpret the mural as they see fit — it’s not about what they feel, as long as it makes people feel something when they see his work.
“It sounds cliche, but every different person can see what they want in it,” the artist says. “They can see themselves in it, or they can see something that relates to the wider community or humanity in general.”
The mural was commissioned by the art agency Ava Grey Designs. Czr Prz, 41, co-founder of the agency, says it’s been putting murals across the city.
Dredske’s interest in Fuller’s philosophy dates to him following trip-hop artist DJ Spooky, who gave lectures where he’d mention works he was inspired by.
That led him to the work of Fuller, the architect and theorist who died in 1983 and who popularized the term “Spaceship Earth.” The book uses a spaceship as a metaphor for Earth. Fuller wrote that people need to recognize that nature’s resources shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Dredske says the book helped him see Earth in “a new light” and live more sustainably.
He says his work generally is inspired by architecture — “very geometric,” influenced by Russian Brutalism and more than a little sci-fi cyberpunk.
“It is a definitive style,” he says. “Some people believe it’s style without substance, but I don’t really understand how you could see that. It’s not ‘Lord of the Rings.’ I feel ‘Lord of the Rings’ is more style with no substance.”