The National Museum of Women in the Arts announced Wednesday that Chakaia Booker, an internationally known American sculptor, will be the next artist featured on the New York Avenue strip outside the museum.
Starting in March 2012, the median on New York Avenue between 12th and 13th Streets N.W. will display the unusual abstractions that Booker creates out of recycled tires.
“Her works for us really do represent the essence of the sculpture project. We think it is very appropriate that the works are made out of tires,” said museum director Susan Fisher Sterling.
“The work is abstract but feels organic because of the way she layers, cuts and textures the tires.”
The New York Avenue Sculpture Project started a year-and-a-half ago with a display of the French artist, Niki de Saint Phalle. The contrast between Booker’s work and Saint Phalle’s representational, boldly colored pieces illustrates the museum’s admiration for all artistic approaches. “Yes, we are moving from Saint Phalle’s whimsical, colorful palette to one that is on a darker note,” said Sterling.
Yet Booker’s sculpture will prompt people to think about issues, she said. “Chakaia talks about, as an African American artist, the different colors in the tires, from shiny black to slightly dusty gray to a brownish tinge that she likens to the color of people’s skin. The tire treads, she says, reminds her of scarification and tattoos, and that adds to the organic dimension.”
Recently Booker was included in a show in Baltimore that looked at the current work of African American women who used found objects. Booker, who lives in New York and Allentown, Pa., was selected for the 2000 Whitney Biennial and received the Pollack-Krasner Grant in 2002 and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2005. One of her works, “Acid Rain” is on permanent display at the Women’s Museum’s.
A show on Booker’s art was mounted at the women’s museum in 2006.
The sculpture project is a collaboration with the Downtown DC Business Improvement District, the DC Office of Planning and other agencies. The winning artist, chosen from five candidates organized by Kathryn Wat, a curator at the museum, was selected by those offices, along with the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, the city’s transportation department, the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and the Advisory Neighborhood Commission.
In 2012 the museum will celebrate its 25th anniversary and Sterling reported that the museum had raised $46 million towards its $50 million capital campaign.