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Chakaia
Booker
Year created: 
2003
No More Milk and Cookies, Chakaia Booker
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14 ½' x 28' x 19'

Rubber tires and wood
Lent by the Artist, Courtesy Marlborough Gallery, New York, NY

In 2002, ArtNews magazine called Chakaia Booker the "Queen of Rubber Soul". Using tires as her medium, Booker refers to notions of mobility and transportation, labor, industry, and the human condition as a whole. She takes this relatively rigid, durable material, and gives it flexibility by cutting, shaping, folding, and arranging the pieces to create sculptures with multiple surfaces and textures. Sliced pieces of tire are closely assembled in an overlapping pattern, creating a spiky, yet wispy effect. No More Milk and Cookies has a feathered appearance reminiscent of a textile or perhaps a tattoo. Booker does reference her African heritage in her sculptures, and works such as No More Milk and Cookies are influenced by African art, highly patterned fabrics, and the tradition of scarification.

The title of this piece is a reprimand which most can probably recall from their youth. According to the artist, this statement carries a different meaning as an adult. Booker questions our commercially driven society, and what happens when consumption is prohibited. "No matter how old you are, you're constantly being checked," says Booker, who closely observes the influence of marketing and the profusion of products in our daily lives. The artist believes that the inability to obtain all material desires does not stop us from believing that life would be better if there were just one more cookie on the plate.

The undulating shape of No More Milk and Cookies references the emotional arc of a frustrated child or adult, denied the "cookie" they desperately want. Booker developed this work at ground level—where the seed of desire is planted—the first "cookie." Once recognized as something good, desire is heightened, the craving for more increases, and the sculpture grows due to this response. If gone unfulfilled, the craving can turn to desperation, and selfish motivation can turn to manipulation and deceit. Finally, when rejected, the spirit of longing crashes down in a bitter denouement. Charting these ups and downs in her sculpture, Booker seeks to challenge values driven by consumerism.

No longer on view.