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Milwaukee Art Museum Presents On Site: Chakaia Booker

The Milwaukee Art Museum presents On Site: Chakaia Booker, the latest in a series of exhibitions featuring the work of contemporary artists presented in the Quadracci Pavilion. Open through February 13, 2011.

Booker’s stunning black sculptures made from automobile tires will be dramatically presented in the pristine, light-filled spaces of the Baumgartner Galleria.

Chakaia Booker’s sculptures stem from a tradition in modern art of using found objects and industrially fabricated materials recalling artists as diverse as Mark Di Suvero, Louise Nevelson, and Marcel Duchamp. Yet Booker’s work goes beyond this conventional reading, incorporating elements of African dance, weaving, and basketry. The artist actually began her career making wearable sculpture in the 1980s, and continues to emphasize the connections between life, movement, and her artworks. The textures and patterns of the tires give them a woven, textile-like quality, yet the forms seem particularly anthropomorphic. The surface finishes range from rich and lustrous to dried and cracking. It has been suggested that they are metaphors for the African-American experience.

The Manhattan-based artist has her studio in a former factory building in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where she commutes by bus. In her factory, she has the tools that allow her to slice, dissect, twist and assemble the automobile tires that are the clay for her sculptures. Over a dozen works will be presented in On Site: Chakaia Booker.

On Site: Chakaia Booker is sponsored by the Contemporary Art Society and African American Art Alliance.

The exhibition is organized by Brady Roberts, chief curator for the Milwaukee Art Museum.

Image: Chakaia Booker, Skip Stop, 2005, Rubber, tire, and wood.

The Milwaukee Art Museum’s expansive Collection includes more than 20,000 works spanning antiquity to the present day. With a history dating back to 1888, the Museum holds collections of American decorative arts, German Expressionism, folk and Haitian art, and American art after 1960 that are among the nation’s best. The Museum includes the Santiago Calatrava–designed Quadracci Pavilion, named by Time magazine “Best Design of 2001.” The Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., except for Thursdays when the Museum stays open until 8 p.m. For more information, visit

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