Monochrome for Chicago, 2010–12
Stainless steel, stainless steel wire, and aluminum
40 x 35 x 33 inches (12.2 x 10.7 x 10 m)
Installation at Navy Pier, Chicago, Illinois
Photo by Erich Koyama
Nancy Rubins transforms industrial, manufactured objects—such as mattresses, appliances, boats—into the building blocks of her physically commanding monumental sculptures. Acting as an intermediary between the past and future states of her chosen materials, Rubins hones the formal, rather than the functional qualities of the discrete components that make up a single, cohesive sculpture. The recent Monochrome series, for example, features numerous and varied canoes and rowboats, arranged around a large steal armature, like so many leaves on the limb of a tree. Brimming with the entropic energies of a force of nature, her arrangements evoke a precarious equilibrium of objects in space, citing both the traditions of modernist American monumental sculpture as well as bricolage, which emphasize the aesthetic possibilities of quotidian objects.
Nancy Rubins was born in Naples, Texas, raised in Tullahoma, Tennessee, and studied at the Maryland Institute, College of Art, Baltimore (BFA, 1974) and the University of California, Davis (MFA, 1976). She currently lives and works in Topanga Canyon, California. Her work is part of numerous public collections, including The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; and FRAC Bourgogne, Dijon, France. Her solo museum exhibitions include those hosted by Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego (1994); The Museum of Modern Art, New York (1995); ARTPACE, San Antonio (1997); Miami Art Museum (1999); Fonds regional d'art contemporain de Bourgogne, France (2005); SculptureCenter, Long Island City, New York (2006); Lincoln Center, New York (2006); and Navy Pier, Chicago (2013). Rubins’ large scale, outdoor sculptures are on permanent display at institutions throughout the world, including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Albright Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, and l'Université Paris Diderot, Paris.