Chakaia Booker: Shaved Portions
Danforth campus, corner of Brookings Drive and Skinker Blvd.
Chakaia Booker is renowned for her artistic practice that pushes the limits of abstraction through the use of her signature material—discarded rubber tires salvaged from city streets, auto-repair shops, and dumps—and its relation to ecological concerns. Shaved Portions epitomizes Booker’s ability to radically transform this industrial material into an incredible array of biomorphic forms. Repurposed from scraps that would have otherwise remained symbols of urban blight or measures of wanton waste, Shaved Portions is a monumental work that, as the artist describes it, is “about beauty, rhythm, and a common humanity. It is about how we create to connect to one another.”
Since the early 1990s, Booker has explored the complex relationship between environmental issues, racial and economic difference, and gender through her assemblages. For the artist the multiple color tones of the rubber parallel human diversity, while the tire treads suggest images as varied as African scarification and textile designs. Situated adjacent to the entrance to Washington University at the corner of Brookings Drive and Skinker Blvd., the modular architectural structure of Shaved Portions is visible from this busy thoroughfare. Visitors can walk through the massive structure and experience its power—its texture, its structure, and its message of connection and community.
Shaved Portions was originally commissioned by Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center for the Campbell Art Park in Oklahoma City. It is presented at the Kemper Art Museum courtesy of the artist and the Washington University in St. Louis Art on Campus program.
Chakaia Booker (American, b. 1953) earned a BA in sociology from Rutgers University (1976) and an MFA from the City College of New York (1993). Her public art commissions include Millennium Park, Chicago; Garment District Alliance, New York; National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, DC; and Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami. Her work is in more than forty public collections, and she has exhibited across the US, Europe, Africa, and Asia. She is the recipient of grants, fellowships, and awards from numerous organizations, including the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation; Pollock-Krasner Foundation; American Academy of Arts and Letters; and Joan Mitchell Foundation; among many others. She lives in New York City and works in New York and Allentown, PA.