Chakaia Booker sculpture added to NYC’s Garment District

Shaved Portions, a 35-foot-tall abstract sculpture comprised of deconstructed rubber tires, created by renowned sculptor, painter, and photographer Chakaia Booker, is standing tall in the Garment District as part of the Garment District Alliance’s latest public art exhibit.  

Located on the Broadway plazas in the Garment District between 39th and 40th Streets, Shaved Portions is composed of salvaged rubber tires and the resulting abstract form represents beauty, rhythm, and a common humanity. The sculpture was originally commissioned for the Oklahoma Center for Contemporary Art and previously shown at Washington University in St. Louis, MO.

Shaved Portions is a powerful work which will mesmerize viewers with its form, texture and engineering as well as urge them to contemplate the effect of waste and how it is interconnected with our common societal experience,” Barbara A. Blair, president of the Garment District Alliance, said.

The sculpture – which is free for viewing and will be accessible to the public through November 1 – is part of Garment District Art on the Plazas, a year-round public art program made possible through Arterventions, an initiative of the New York City Department of Transportation’s Art Program (NYC DOT Art). The Garment District Alliance and NYC DOT work closely to coordinate and install exhibits and individual pieces to enhance public plazas and make them even more welcoming to New Yorkers.

Widely acclaimed for her artistic practice that pushes the limits of abstraction through utilizing repurposed materials, Booker transforms used and discarded rubber materials found on city streets, repair shops and dumps into elaborate sculptures. Through slicing, twisting, and weaving tires into radically new forms and textures, Booker highlights and merges ecological concerns with explorations of racial and economic disparity, globalization, and gender.

Booker’s work often evokes in viewers comparisons to the human experience, where the varied tones of the rubber parallels human diversity, the tire treads drawing upon African scarification and textile design, and the visible wear and tear of the tires mirrors the physical marks of aging, and the unexplainable experiences of beauty and wonder. Booker employs a variety of disciplines including African dance, ceramics, weaving, basketry, and tai’ chi to inform her approach to making artworks which in turn create a unique intellectual, physical, and emotional experience of the work for each viewer.  

“Since the early 1980s, Chakaia Booker has been investigating abstract sculpture in totally innovative ways. She has elevated a raw material to the heights of bronze or marble used by classic sculptors of the past,” David Nolan, founder of David Nolan Gallery, said. “Her sculptures are full of energy, texture and movement. Monumental and intimate at the same time, they draw the audience in to explore the artist’s technique of layering and interlocking elements. Booker’s work has been exhibited and collected internationally and is included in many institutional collections, from the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. to major museums in New York.”

Chakaia Booker lives in New York City and works in New York and Allentown, Pennsylvania. Booker’s works are contained in more than 40 public collections and have been exhibited across the U.S., and in Europe, Africa, and Asia. Booker was included in the 2000 Whitney Biennial and received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2005. Recent public installation highlights include Millennium Park, Chicago (2016-2018); Garment District Alliance Broadway Plazas, New York (2014); and National Museum of Women in the Arts New York Avenue Sculpture Project, Washington DC (2012). Booker holds a Master of Fine Arts from the City College of New York and a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from Rutgers University.

Visitors are encouraged to share their experiences with Shaved Portions on social media by following and tagging @GarmentDistrictNYC on Instagram, @TheGarmentDistrictNYC on Facebook, @GarmentDstrctNY on X, and @Garment_District on TikTok.

The Garment District is home to diverse business sectors from technology to hospitality and includes thousands of people working in the creative economy, including fine and performing artists, designers, architects, photographers and more than a hundred theaters, galleries, performance spaces and studios.

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