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Contemporary Artist Chakaia Booker to Speak at UMFA

Salt Lake City – With growing demands on the world’s resources and energy, everyday items across the urban landscape increasingly find second lives through reuse and recycling. Few found objects, however, are reinvented in such interesting form as the rubber tires used by contemporary sculptor Chakaia Booker.

On Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 7 pm, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts (UMFA) Young Benefactors and University of Utah Department of Art and Art History will host artist Chakaia Booker for a free public talk in the UMFA Katherine W. and Ezekiel R. Dumke Jr. Auditorium. The artist will speak about the UMFA’s newly acquired sculpture, Discarded Memories, and discuss her unique practice of cutting, twisting, and weaving pieces of scavenged car and bicycle tires into elaborate, large-scale sculptures.

Chakaia Booker was born in 1953 and raised in Newark, New Jersey. She received a bachelor of art in sociology from Rutgers University in 1976, and a master of fine arts from the City College of New York in 1993. She currently lives and works in New York City.

Booker first conceptualized her tire sculptures in the 1980s when she moved to the East Village, which was not then the gentrified neighborhood that it is now. The late 70s and early 80s saw frequent fires on East Village streets, often set by desperate landlords who sought to cash in on insurance money because they could not rent apartments. Stripping what she could from these burned-out wrecks, Booker began to experiment with automobile tires as a malleable medium of expression, forming petals, stalks, spikes, and skins from large rubber sheaves.

In 1988 she began to receive national attention and acclaim for her work, with its evocation of themes such as the environment, urban space, and the societal position of women and minorities. In the 2008 exhibition, Mass Transit, Booker was commissioned by the Indianapolis Art Council to install ten of her sculptures throughout the downtown area. In the summer of 2010, the DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, Massachusetts hosted the largest solo exhibition of her work to date, featuring thirty of her pieces.

Booker’s works are part of several collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Bronx Museum of Art, and The Studio Museum of Harlem. The UMFA is pleased to be part of this growing list. In fall of 2009, the UMFA Young Benefactors­––an affinity donor group that supports the museum’s contemporary art programs––selected one of Booker’s sculptures, Discarded Memories, as their annual purchase for the UMFA’s growing collection of contemporary art. This work will be on display for a limited time in the museum’s first floor galleries beginning November 4, 2010.

The Utah Museum of Fine Arts is located on the University of Utah campus in the Marcia and John Price Museum Building at 410 Campus Center Drive. The UMFA’s mission is to engage visitors in discovering meaningful connections with the artistic expressions of the world’s cultures. Like the University of Utah, the UMFA strives to be a safe haven for discussion, dialogue, and free expression. General admission is $7 adults, $5 youth and seniors, FREE for U of U students/staff/faculty, UMFA members, higher education students in Utah, and children under six years old. Free admission offered the first Wednesday and third Saturday of each month. Museum hours are Tuesday – Friday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Wednesdays 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.; Weekends, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.; closed Mondays and holidays.

For more information call (801) 581-7332 or visit

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