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Review: Old tires morph magically in Chakaia Booker’s “Sustain,” at ACA Gallery of SCAD

Chakaia Booker is an artist given to hide-and-seek. The colorful post-and-lintel headdress she wore at the reception for “Sustain,” her solo show at the ACA Gallery of SCAD, commanded attention, but she eluded most questions during her public interview.

As noted in my review in the AJC, Booker’s sculptures are every bit as dramatic as her costumes, and they too refuse to be pinned down. But what is frustrating in an interview makes for a rich experience in an artwork. Crafted almost exclusively from used tires, these sculptures evoke a riptide of associations that carry the viewer from art to politics to culture to the recesses of the id.

Chakaia Booker: “Vacancy”


They are also compelling objects. The New York-based artist skillfully manipulates rubber to create a variety of effects, exploiting everything from its color and malleability to the texture of the tread patterns. Her vocabulary, demonstrated in the selection of works here, encompasses the staccato of pointy shards, the liquidity of undulant folds, the order of carefully layered tiles. Booker assembles the parts into compositions that radiate the kind of energy concentrated in the moment before a tiger springs.

Meaning is bewitchingly mutable. A pouf of spiky forms brings to mind ferns, switchblade knives, the raffia collar of an African mask. At times, the blackness of the material projects menace. It could be interpreted as an allusion to race. 

Chakaia Booker: “Foundling Warrior Quest (II 21C),” photogravure


The material inevitably invites thoughts of car culture, the forms, modernism…. To read the full review, click here.