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Vol. LXIII, No. 46
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
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Sculpture Installation at Arts Council Showcases Booker’s Talent in Tires

Dilshanie Perera

When strolling past the Arts Council, it is hard to miss the giant sculptural forms frozen in twists and turns on the Michael Graves Terrace.

Artist Chakaia Booker’s rubber and stainless steel works comprise the Arts Council of Princeton’s outdoor installation, Terrace Project: Chakaia Booker, which is on view until July 10, 2010.

Using primarily truck, car, and bicycle tires, Ms. Booker has been working with such found materials since the early 1990s, though the pieces on view were all made in the past two years.

Arts Council Executive Director Jeff Nathanson first got to know of Ms. Booker’s oeuvre when he was the director of the International Sculpture Center, which publishes Sculpture magazine.

Ms. Booker’s work made the magazine’s front cover in 2003, with Mr. Nathanson reflecting, “I’d like to think that it was one of those feathers in her cap that catapulted her to national and international acclaim.”

“The work expresses my observations on life,” Ms. Booker noted in a release, adding that her work “focuses on social and cultural issues, on being female, and on the creative diversity of found objects which are metamorphosed into works of art.” Her sculpture deals with themes of identity, gender, history, and human aspiration, among other things.

Mr. Nathanson recalled noticing that passersby would interact with the sculpture Like from the moment the works were installed on the terrace. “It is a frame sitting out in public, or a window,” he said, pointing out the way the piece offers a new glimpse of Witherspoon Street.

Showing Ms. Booker’s work at the Arts Council evolved from a conversation between Mr. Nathanson and then-curator E. Carmen Ramos, who wanted to display sculpture by a New Jersey artist.

“Chakaia’s name came up very quickly,” Mr. Nathanson said. Originally from Newark, Ms. Booker now lives and works in New York City and is represented by the Marlborough Gallery.

Both an artist and an arts educator, Ms. Booker also has work in the collections of the Bronx Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Newark Museum, the Studio Museum of Harlem, and others, with her sculpture shown across the United States, Netherlands, and Japan.

“I have a lot of admiration for her...she earned great success against some significant odds,” Mr. Nathanson said.

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