WASHINGTON—Since March 2012, drivers and pedestrians on New York Avenue Northwest in Washington D.C., between 12th and 13th Streets, have been treated to a rare sight: elegant, fanciful sculptures made from recycled scrap tires.
Sporting titles such as “Gridlock,” “Take Out” and “Pass the Buck,” the imposing sculptures are the work of Chakaia Booker, an internationally renowned artist who specializes in exploring the full artistic potential of recycled tires.
Booker's sculptures stand just outside Washington's National Museum for Women in the Arts, which commissioned and curates the sculpture project.
“(Booker) carefully selects tires with easy-to-cut, worn-out treads in order to transform them into her desired shapes,” according to publicity about Booker and her sculptures on the NMWA website. She makes detailed models using state-of-the-art design software, then constructs armatures using pressure-treated wood and steel rods, the museum said.
Booker used hundreds of tires to fabricate the sculptures in the New York Avenue Sculpture Project, she said in an interview from her studio in Allentown, Pa. Michelin North America Inc. supported the project by providing tires for the sculptures' surface treatment, she said, with discarded tires from other sources used on the armature.