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Over the past decade, Chakaia Booker has become one of America's most important contemporary sculptors. Chakaia Booker: In and Out is the largest and most comprehensive museum exhibition of this African-American artist's work to date, and represents the wide range of Booker's practice from the mid-1990s to the present. The exhibition includes monumental outdoor sculptures, indoor sculpture in a wide variety of formats and sizes, drawings, and photographs.
Chakaia Booker is best known for the material and process that characterize the majority of her work: cut-up automobile tires that are reassembled on wooden or steel armatures to create abstract sculptures. This recycled material, and the surface patterns that it creates, reference African textiles and body decoration to evoke issues of black culture, identity, gender, and environmentalism. Formally, Booker's work is engaged in dialogue with the history of Western sculpture, from the ancient and classical tradition of the human figure through the Modernist non-objective sculpture of the twentieth century. What sets her work apart, and significantly expands upon the history of sculpture, is her ability–with rubber tires–to create surfaces on objects that resemble skins, feathers, scales, spikes, armor, or attire. These surfaces, in concert with their underlying forms, serve as metaphors for a potent range of emotions and psychological states. Booker's sculptures can seem alluring, threatening, encompassing, vulnerable, majestic, humorous, ominous, or tender. In and Out refers simultaneously to the indoor/outdoor placement of the sculptures, the complex dialogues among surface/structure and mass/volume/void in each work, and also to the sexually suggestive images in some of Booker's work.
Chakaia Booker: In and Out is supported by a generous grant from the Lois and Richard England Family Foundation. The accompanying exhibition catalogue has been supported in part by Marlborough Gallery, New York, NY.
Chakaia Booker received an MFA from the City College of New York and a BA from Rutgers University. She has created outdoor installations for Storm King Art Center, the City of Indianapolis, the New York Public Art Fund, Socrates Sculpture Park, Laumeier Sculpture Park, and NASA. Solo exhibitions of her work have been organized by the Akron Art Museum, the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Laumeier Sculpture Park and Museum, and the Neuberger Museum of Art at SUNY Purchase, and she was included in the 2000 Whitney Biennial. Her work has been collected by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Bronx Museum of Art, the New Orleans Museum of Art, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts, among others.