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University of Iowa News Release

April 16, 2004

Versatile Artist Chakaia Booker Will Speak On Her Work April 26

Artist Chakaia Booker, who works in sculpting, weaving and ceramics, will present a slide lecture of her works at 8 p.m. Monday, April 26 in Room E109 of the University of Iowa Art Building.

Booker's lecture, which is sponsored by the UI School of Art and Art History, will be free and open to the public.

Working from a studio in Manhattan's East Village, Booker creates large-scale sculptures from found objects, especially tires from cars, trucks, motorcycles and bicycles. One of her pieces, "It's So Hard to be Green," is a high-relief wall of shredded tires that appear to look like a junk yard. The piece earned her critical acclaim in the 2001 Whitney Biennial.

For her, tires are metaphors for the range of skin tones of African Americans. The tread patterns suggest scars on African faces, and the toughness of the rubber suggests the strength of dark-skinned people. She began art by making wearable art and dresses in elaborate coats, dresses, richly colored shawls and headdresses, and appears as richly layered as her sculptures.

Booker was born in Newark, N.J., and has an undergraduate degree in sociology from Rutgers University. In 1993, she earned a Masters of fine arts degree from City College of New York. In her creativity, she has always wanted to experiment and not conform and focuses on finding unusual materials and discards from construction sites, urban dumps, roadsides, etc.

She has had numerous one-person shows in galleries in New York, the Neuberger Museum of Art in Ohio, the Akron Museum, and in the Netherlands, Korea and Japan.

The School of Art and Art History is part of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

For information on UI arts events, visit on the World Wide Web. You may visit the UI School of Art and Art History web site at To receive UI arts news by e-mail, contact

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

CONTACT: Peter Alexander, 319-384-0072,

OTHER INFORMATION: The image posted with this story online is "It's So Hard to be Green," (Rubber tires, wood, 150"x 252"x 24", Whitney Biennial 2000)