Chakaia Booker and Bob Emser exhibit in: Inside Out

Inside Out
October 18, 2008-January 11, 2009

Foreground Booker's Egress. On wall Emser's Stretch Out into Forever

Gallery installation of Inside Out

Elmhurst At Museum in Elmhurst Illinois will host the artist reception for the exhibit Inside Out on Sunday, November 9, 2008. Inside Out will feature two important American sculptors, Chakaia Booker, who lives and works in New York and Bob Emser, from Illinois.  Their work will complement and confront, challenging the viewer to think of the artists’ expression of their emotions, memories, and internal creativity – in a sense bringing their insides out. Booker and Emser will be in attendance of the reception that runs from 2-4 pm that day.

Inside Out is an exhibition exploring and exposing our ensconced perspective of sculpture and theme.  Inside Out can suggest something made topsy-turvy and presented to the viewer in a new way; the orderly arrangement of structure is made both chaotic and lyrical.  The show’s title can also imply the act of seeing beyond the surface with the viewer encountering sculpture that creates an aesthetic impact where it does not exist.

The following an essay from the catalog written by Curator D. Neil Bremer,

Inside Out

The idiom, Inside Out, acts as a metaphor for this exhibition of works by Chakaia Booker and Bob Emser.  Both artists, Ms. Booker from New York and Mr. Emser from rural Illinois, have explored various media and forms of expression during their careers, but are shown here specifically in terms of their signature sculptural work.  Throughout their oeuvre each artist has established a strong identity with their work and when you see a particular piece you know instantly “that is a Booker” or “that is an Emser”.

The multiple meanings of the phrase Inside Out are manifest in the objects, individually and relationally, which begin their existence as an idea or feeling within the artists themselves.  I’ve spoken to young art students and established artists over the years about the struggle to make something unique and the quest to turn the elusive conceptual and emotional into tangible expression.  This need to create starts on the inside of an artist and must escape out into the world.  Subsequently, as viewers, we observe, critique, and opine about the end result, and associate our beliefs either to our own inside or back to the artist’s internal inspiration.  We are seeing the insides of Chakaia Booker and Bob Emser out in the gallery.

In its literal sense, the title refers to showing the inside of an object.  Booker’s rendering of automotive tires into unexpected shapes is achieved with wonderful grace and exceptional strength by literally cutting the steel reinforced rubber and with twisting and bending, exposing the inside of the material.  The floral displays which disguise the weight of the material are a brilliantly unique counterpoint to Bonnie Koloc’s floral collage.

Bob Emser, rather than manipulating a one-sided medium to reveal the hidden parts, takes us inside his work, sometimes literally.  What began as solid sculptural shapes with ribbing that suggested an airy interior has given way to sweeping outlines defining a work that is present but not seen.  The interior spaces of Emser’s sculptures are as real as the metal and wood he uses to delineate them.  The inside of his wall pieces is drawn out by the use of lighting and shadow, adding intriguing complexity to shapes which, at first glance, seem deceptively uncomplicated.

Finally, Inside Out is an expression of upheaval or turmoil and challenge.  Turning something inside out means to shake things up and challenge a status quo.  Booker’s considerable talent challenges us to see the feminine in what begins as a typically male targeted product.  Her tire sculptures have been described as an expression of urban blackness, but. Booker’s work truly questions the sound-bite feeling one gets from that short answer.  Her sculptures reveal subtle colors and variations that echo the complexity of the creator and Booker shows us that black is more than black.

Emser’s work juxtaposed with Booker’s sculptures accentuates the confrontation brought about by turning something inside out.  His works seem to float compared to Booker’s anchored creations and a gender-biased viewer might confuse which artist created which works.  The fact that Emser, influenced by his childhood paper airplane constructions, and Booker can make us see inside these structures while presenting work so visually different and beautifully complementary is the wonderful surprise of Inside Out.

D. Neil Bremer
Executive Director and Curator

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3 Responses to Chakaia Booker and Bob Emser exhibit in: Inside Out

  1. jennibateman says:

    This is an exciting time for you! Wish we were closer and could be at the reception. Hope the book is also doing well – know that you are missed.

    Greetings to all – hope the show is an enormous success!

    as always.
    jenni bateman

  2. Bob Rizzo says:

    Bob,

    Congrats! Looks like a great exhibition – wish I could be there to see it. The combination of your work w/ Chakia’s must be wonderful.

    Hope all is well. All my best.

    Bob

  3. Congratulations Bob and Chakai. The show will surely have a dynamic energy since the works cover the yin and yang of sculpture. The texture of the black surfaces on the Booker pieces I’ve seen at Storm King in New York and at the DeCordova Museum contrast well with the smooth, white or metal skin of Bob’s work, which I also saw in Massachusetts. Both use linear, repeating forms that include arcs or implied arcs composed of straight pieces arranged to suggest curves. The show spans material derived from trees (rubber and wood) along with shiny, smooth metals smelted from ores of the earth. There are elements of recycling and its history of human use contrasted with man-made new material suggesting engineering and math.
    This is an intriguing pairing.
    JAZ

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