Artist Chakaia Booker Selected for Second Installation of the New York Avenue Sculpture Project

A large metal sculpture stands in the middle of the street, similar to an empty rectangular picture frame. The “frame” is crowded with undulating, coiling metal sculptural elements that occasionally end in spikes. Behind stand three vertical twisting, net-like metal sculptures.

WASHINGTON—Internationally renowned sculptor Chakaia Booker has been selected as the second artist for the New York Avenue Sculpture Project, the only public art space featuring changing installations of contemporary works by women artists. Organized by the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA), the New York Avenue Sculpture Project is a collaboration between the museum, the Downtown DC Business Improvement District (BID), the DC Office of Planning and other local agencies.

Based in New York, Booker (American b. 1953) works almost exclusively with recycled tires that are cut, shaped and folded, then woven into dynamic, highly textured sculptures. Her large-scale expressive works fuse ecological concerns with explorations of racial and economic difference, globalization, and gender.

“It is wonderful that the Women’s Museum will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2012 with a new installation of Chakaia Booker’s sculpture. Booker’s art, which transforms old automobile tires into monumental organic abstractions, is the perfect choice for a traffic median that has been turned into a sculpture island. We would like to thank our advisory board for selecting Booker’s striking black and steel works that incorporate her grand vision of ‘the street and the alley and the people between and the sky and the earth—it’s all one,’” said NMWA Director Susan Fisher Sterling.

Representatives from NMWA, the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, DCBID, DDOT, DC Office of Planning, DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, Advisory Neighborhood Commission, local museums with outdoor sculpture programs, and public art experts make up the advisory board that selected the winning artist.

Booker has produced acclaimed shows in sculpture parks including Storm King in New York and Laumeier Sculpture Park in St. Louis, and has been included in important museum and gallery exhibitions including the 2000 Whitney Biennial.

The installation comprises four sculptures including a new work that Booker is creating specifically for the project. The sculptures, located in the median of New York Avenue between 12h and 13th Streets, N.W., will be dedicated on International Women’s Day, Thursday, March 8, 2012 and remain on view through 2014.

“When the New York Avenue Sculpture Project was first unveiled a year-and-a-half ago, it helped brand the corridor as a signature American street,” said Richard H. Bradley, executive director of the Downtown DC Business Improvement District (BID). “Such high-quality public space creates a more pedestrian friendly, urban experience and supports the type of placemaking projects and programs that we plan to expand and accelerate in the years ahead.”

The BID is one of the museum’s public-private partners on the sculpture project. It managed the preliminary design and engineering, shepherded the project through the approval processes of seven agencies, and took the lead in managing the construction project, including lighting, landscaping and signage. The Downtown BID Safety/Hospitality and Maintenance employees (SAMs) will once again help maintain the landscaping once the plantings are installed around Booker’s art work.

# # #

About the Artist

Chakaia Booker received a B.A. in sociology from Rutgers University in 1976 and a MFA from the City College of New York in 1993. She gained international acclaim at the 2000 Whitney Biennial, where she exhibited It’s So Hard to Be Green (2000), a 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 widely, including solo exhibitions at the National Museum of Women in the Arts and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, and group exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Booker lives in New York but commutes to her studio, a former dry-cleaning facility, in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA)

Founded in 1981 and opened in 1987, NMWA is the only museum solely dedicated to celebrating the achievements of women in the visual, performing and literary arts. The museum’s permanent collection features 4,000 works from the 16th century to the present created by more than 800 artists; including Mary Cassatt, Frida Kahlo, Alma Thomas, Lee Krasner, Louise Bourgeois, and Chakaia Booker along with special collections of 18th-century silver tableware and botanical prints. NMWA is located at 1250 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C., in a landmark building near the White House. It is open Monday–Saturday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. and Sunday, noon–5 p.m. For information, call 202-783-5000 or visit Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for visitors 65 and over and students, and free for NMWA Members and youth 18 and under.

The DowntownDC Business Improvement District (BID)

The DowntownDC Business Improvement District (BID) is a private non-profit organization that provides capital improvements, resources and research to help diversify the economy and enhance the Downtown experience for all. This special district, where property owners have agreed to tax themselves to fund services, encompasses a 138-block area of approximately 825 properties from Massachusetts Avenue on the north to Constitution Avenue on the south, and from Louisiana Avenue on the east to 16th Street on the west. As a catalyst, facilitator and thought leader, the DowntownDC BID promotes public/private partnerships to create a remarkable urban environment. For more information, visit or follow on Twitter @downtowndcbid.