Chakaia Booker, Maker of Monumental Repurposed Rubber Tire Sculptures, Finds the Spotlight in Miami

Mark Borghi Gallery, which recently announced representation of the artist, has devoted its entire Art Miami booth to the artist's riveting creations.

Installation view of Chakaia Booker's sculptures with Mark Borghi Gallery at Art Miami, 2019. Courtesy Mark Borghi Gallery.
Installation view of Chakaia Booker's sculptures with Mark Borghi Gallery at Art Miami, 2019. Courtesy Mark Borghi Gallery.

Depending on how you look at it, the Newark-born Chakaia Booker could be classified as an artistic rediscovery.

The artist, who is in her 60s, first emerged in the early 1990s, creating striking outdoor public sculptures made from discarded industrial materials, namely rubber tires, which she transformed through a laborious process of machine and physical labor, into sensual, tendril-filled, texture-rich sculptures. In 2000, she garnered international attention for It’s So Hard to Be Green (2000), a massive wall-hung tire sculpture featured in that year’s Whitney Biennial. 

After those those early critical murmurs and rumblings, things got quieter, and for the majority of the past two decades Booker has plied her trade largely outside of the limelight. Now, that seems poised to change.  Earlier this fall, Booker signed to be exclusively represented by Mark Borghi Gallery, which has locations in Manhattan and Bridgehampton, and for this year’s Art Miami the gallery has devoted its entire booth to a solo presentation of her work. 

Echoes in Black (Industrial Cicatrization), 1996. Courtesy of Mark Borghi Gallery.

Chakaia Booker, Echoes in Black (Industrial Cicatrization) (1996). Courtesy of Mark Borghi Gallery.

“When I saw Chakaia Booker in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I knew she deserved her own show,” said Borhgi. “The reception in the booth has been extraordinary.” On view in Miami are a range of Booker’s sculptures, dating back to the 1990s and up to today. The rigorous and dynamic sculptures conjure a range of often visceral associations, with the worn tires often suggesting of human aging, while others have suggested similarities between the work’s visible tire treads and everything from African scarification and textile designs.

In these sculptures’ varied states, from lustrous to cracking in their substance, there is a shared anthropomorphic quality. These visceral qualities have drawn the eyes of many visitors to the fair, including collectors. And while her work has been drawing attention on its own merits, Booker too has been something of a media sweetheart of the fair—she treats herself as a kind of walking sculpture, and has been snapped in many a photographer in her large and colorful fabric headdress and Dickies.

See images of Booker’s work below.

Installation view of Chakaia Booker's sculptures with Mark Borghi Gallery at Art Miami, 2019. Courtesy Mark Borghi Gallery.

Installation view of Chakaia Booker’s sculptures with Mark Borghi Gallery at Art Miami, 2019. Courtesy of Mark Borghi Gallery.

Chakaia Booker, Romantic Repulsive. Courtesy of Mark Borghi Gallery.

Chakaia Booker, Romantic Repulsive. Courtesy of Mark Borghi Gallery.

Chakaia Booker, 40th and 5th. Courtesy of Mark Borghi Gallery.

Chakaia Booker, 40th and 5th. Courtesy of Mark Borghi Gallery.

 

 

See works by Chakaia Booker at Mark Borghi Gallery, Booth AM 328, Art Miami through Sunday, December 8. 


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