Chakaia BOOKER b. 1953

Sculptor Chakaia Booker fuses ecological concerns with explorations of racial and economic difference, globalization, and gender by recycling discarded tires into complex assemblages.

Booker began to integrate discarded construction materials into large, outdoor sculptures in the early 1990s. Tires, resonate with her for their versatility and rich range of historical and cultural associations. Booker slices, twists, weaves, and rivets this medium into radically new forms and textures, which easily withstand outdoor environments.

For her, the varied tones of the rubber parallels human diversity, while the tire treads suggest images as varied as African scarification and textile designs. The visible wear and tear on the tires evokes the physical marks of human aging. Equally, Booker’s use of discarded tires references industrialization, consumer culture, and environmental concerns.

Booker’s artistic process is enormously physical, from transporting the tires to reshaping them with machinery. Though she has adopted utilitarian jeans and work boots in her studio, she always wears a large, intricately wrapped headdress, which has links to her earliest wearable art and has become her fashion signature.

Booker received a B.A. in sociology from Rutgers University in 1976, and an M.F.A. from the City College of New York in 1993. She gained international acclaim at the 2000 Whitney Biennial with It’s So Hard to Be Green (2000), her 12.5 x 21 foot wall-hung tire sculpture. Booker received the Pollock-Krasner Grant in 2002 and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2005. She has exhibited in group and solo exhibitions nationally and internationally.



Jason MARTIN b.1970

A young British artist, Mr. Martin paints by covering largish surfaces of stainless steel, aluminum and plexiglass with (usually) a single color of oil paint; he then pulls a fine, sometimes specially made comblike tool across the wet paint, creating striations that move up and down according to various intervals and rhythms.

The electric-blue glide of ”Patrol” wavers only slightly but nervously and consistently, like the results of lie-detector tests taken by the guiltless or dozens of flat-lining heart monitors. The marigold yellow surfaces of ”Cha-Cha” and ”Samba” have a lot of wave action; their wide undulations gleam, as if three or four spotlights were situated just above, or below, them. Elsewhere, as in the burgundy ”Boudoir,” the surface ripples, like a curtain. And occasionally the raking tool is lifted and the surface broken, creating dramatic fissures of fringed paint.

The artists brought to mind by Mr. Martin’s no-hands technique and glistening effects include Jackson Pollock and Robert Ryman, Alan Charlton, Bridget Riley and David Budd, an American painter whose monochrome surfaces accrue in small palette-knifed, light-deflecting strokes, as well as contemporary painters like James Hyde.

But mostly one comes away with a sense of sensational, tacky retro-chic, as suggested by titles like ”Stripsearch,” ”Harlot” and ”Slapjack” and corroborated by the slickness of the paintings themselves. The problem seems to be one of taste. Mr. Martin needs to raise his sights higher so that his paintings can transcend the gimmicky mechanics of their own making. At this point they actually do seem to have been made by machines and have the brief dazzle of a Slinky toy making its way down the stairs.

Roberta Smith, The New York Times

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