Cut, Weld and Build: Process in Works by Chakaia Booker
New Jersey-born Chakaia Booker is a renowned abstract artist known for her monumental sculptures made of an unconventional artistic material: rubber tires. Whether composed of swooping tendrils of hanging rubber, layered sharp shards of steel belted tires or tightly tailored works that take on the shape of their underlying steel armatures, Booker’s dynamic works are visually and conceptually rich in meaning. Building on the inherent associations of rubber to themes of industrialization, urban blight, suburban sprawl and environmental pollution and the physical properties of her chosen material, Booker’s works dialogue with the history of abstraction, address potent socio-political and humanistic concerns, and find recycled purpose and beauty in refuse.
This exhibition reveals that even as Booker’s body of work is infinitely varied in form and scale, the ways in which she makes her tough material pliable is remarkably consistent. Her creative process often begins deconstructing the exterior and interior structures of rubber tires and then using these varied elements to build up works often on a steel or wooden foundation or armature.
While not a survey, Cut, Weld and Build unites key moments in Booker’s sculptural oeuvre and lesser known works in other media to explore how the marriage of material and method imbues her art with cultural, social and ecological meaning. In cutting, layering, and building works composed of tire fragments, Booker allows this non-traditional artistic material to simultaneously retain its industrial iconic significance and be born again with new meaning.