Urgent Museum Notice

Chakaia Booker

A medium skin-toned adult woman smiles with only her face visible from underneath an elaborate headwrap of nearly a dozen different colorfully printed fabrics. The wrap is piled like a turbin atop her head with fabric cascading down to surround her face.

Chakaia Booker at the Magnetic Fields opening reception, 2017; Photo by Kevin Allen

Born in 1953

Booker began to integrate discarded construction materials into large, outdoor sculptures in the early 1990s. Tires resonate with her for their versatility and rich range of historical and cultural associations. Booker slices, twists, weaves, and rivets this medium into radically new forms and textures, which easily withstand outdoor environments.

For her, the varied tones of the rubber parallels human diversity, while the tire treads suggest images as varied as African scarification and textile designs. The visible wear and tear on the tires evokes the physical marks of human aging. Equally, Booker’s use of discarded tires references industrialization, consumer culture, and environmental concerns.

Booker’s artistic process is enormously physical, from transporting the tires to reshaping them with machinery. Though she has adopted utilitarian jeans and work boots in her studio, she always wears a large, intricately wrapped headdress, which has links to her earliest wearable art and has become her fashion signature.

Booker received a B.A. in sociology from Rutgers University in 1976, and an M.F.A. from the City College of New York in 1993. She gained international acclaim at the 2000 Whitney Biennial with It’s So Hard to Be Green (2000), her 12.5 x 21 foot wall-hung tire sculpture. Booker received the Pollock-Krasner Grant in 2002 and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2005. She has exhibited in group and solo exhibitions nationally and internationally.

Artist Details

  • Name

    Chakaia Booker
  • Birth

    Newark, New Jersey, 1953

Works by Chakaia Booker

Acid Rain

Acid Rain comprises recycled rubber tires and tubing that Chakaia Booker has sliced, stripped, woven, twisted, and riveted into an expressive tableau. Her sculpture highlights the allusive power of her assemblage technique, intertwining the traditionally domestic, feminine pursuits of weaving and handiwork with industrial technology, using saws and drills to work with her unwieldy medium.

Their relationship to technology and prior...

The wall-sized, horizontal sculpture consists of black rubber tires and tubing that has been sliced, stripped, woven, looped, twisted and otherwise manipulated into an expressive and abstract high-relief tableau.