Chakaia Booker: Hidden Refuge
“My intention is to translate materials into imagery that will stimulate people to consider themselves as part of their environment, as one piece of a larger whole.” – Chakaia Booker, Sculpture Magazine, 2003
As Chakaia Booker prepares for her 2021 solo exhibition with the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, FL, Mark Borghi is pleased to present “Hidden Refuge“, our first virtual exhibition of the artist’s work.
Chakaia Booker (born in 1953, Newark, New Jersey) is based in New York City with studios in NYC and Allentown, PA. Her work Raw Attraction, 2001, was recently on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York in Epic Abstraction: Pollock to Herrera (Dec. 17, 2018-Feb. 4, 2020). Booker is currently an artist in residence at the famed Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop in New York City where she has been producing unique and editioned graphic works characteristic of her approach to sculpture.
Chakaia Booker received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Rutgers University, New Brunswick in 1976, and her Master of Fine Arts from the City College of New York (CUNY) in 1993. Booker has studied a variety of disciplines including African dance, ceramics, weaving, basketry as well as Tai’Chi, all of which inform her innovative artistic practices. Booker’s early work with fabric, clothing, and wearable art developed her approach to sculpture, specifically with the use of pattern, repetition, and construction.
Booker is renowned for her elaborate sculptures created from materials such as rubber, wood, and steel. The artist has lived and worked in New York City’s East Village since the early 1980’s where she began converting discarded tires and construction materials into sculptures. Booker’s innovative, artistic process is enormously physical, from transporting tires, to reshaping them by hand, twisting and weaving materials into dynamic new forms rich with texture. For Booker, the varied tones of the rubber tires parallel the color pallet of human diversity with tread patterns suggestive of textile designs, African Scarification practices, and a record of the road traveled. A tire, meant to keep us moving, has a life span built in by industry. By repurposing them, Booker offers the tires an opportunity to carry us once again, all the while highlighting our ability as humans to influence our world for better or for worse.
Chakaia Booker creates bold and riveting works for the gallery, museum, and public spaces. Recent exhibitions at Millennium Park, Chicago, IL, and the Renwick Gallery, Washington D.C. highlight her practice at monumental scale. Her inclusion in the Whitney Biennial in 2000 and numerous commissions and awards including a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2005, place Booker in the canon of contemporary artists who have influenced and reshaped our culture through their work.