Monday, August 28, 2023
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Outside, east of the Museum
Kemper Art Museum, St. Louis, MO 63112
Chakaia Booker is renowned for her artistic practice that pushes the limits of abstraction through the use of her signature material—discarded rubber tires salvaged from city streets, auto-repair shops, and dumps—and its relation to ecological concerns. Shaved Portions epitomizes Booker’s ability to radically transform this industrial material into an incredible array of biomorphic forms. Repurposed from scraps that would have otherwise remained symbols of urban blight or measures of wanton waste, Shaved Portions is a monumental work that, as the artist describes it, is “about beauty, rhythm, and a common humanity. It is about how we create to connect to one another.”
Since the early 1990s, Booker has explored the complex relationship between environmental issues, racial and economic difference, and gender through her assemblages. For the artist the multiple color tones of the rubber parallel human diversity, while the tire treads suggest images as varied as African scarification and textile designs. Situated adjacent to the entrance to Washington University at the corner of Brookings Drive and Skinker Blvd., the modular architectural structure of Shaved Portions is visible from this busy thoroughfare. Visitors can walk through the massive structure and experience its power—its texture, its structure, and its message of connection and community.
Shaved Portions was originally commissioned by Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center for the Campbell Art Park in Oklahoma City. It is presented at the Kemper Art Museum courtesy of the artist and the Washington University in St. Louis Art on Campus program.