Nancy Rubins

Nancy Rubins

‘I realized this stuff has been around for a long time and it has gone through this strange transition. Before it was in Earth, it floated like a molecule in space – it was part of someone’s star or someone’s exploding planet.’

Name: Nancy Rubins
Born: United States, 1952
Art Zuid edition(s): 2019

Social Media: Instagram

About Nancy Rubins

Nancy Rubins is a sculptor and installation artist. She studied at the College of Art at the Maryland Institute in Baltimore and the University of California. There she mainly worked with clay and created igloo-like objects from mud, concrete, and straw.

She avoided the characteristic durability of ceramics, as she continued to disassemble and peel off her sculptures. Her works ‘Mud Slip’, ‘Army-Surplus Canvas’ and ‘Used Cups from Coffee Machine’ (1974) consisted of found objects and wet clay. As long as the clay stayed wet, the work existed.

Rubins’ sculptures mainly consist of ‘flowering’ arrangements of large, rigid objects such as televisions, campers, construction trailers, heating elements, aircraft parts and all kinds of vessels.

In 1980, Rubins was commissioned for her first public installation. ‘Big Bil-Bored’, which was made up of various discarded devices, became a controversial work of art. The sculpture was voted “ugliest statue in Chicago” in a radio poll. This did not alter the fact that subsequent assignments would follow.

Nancy Rubins became known for her grand sculptures, often weighing thousands of kilos. For a long time, she used discarded aircraft parts. Not wood, but more sustainable materials such as aluminum, composites, and fiberglass. In the late 1980s she started working with discarded mattresses, which she transformed into colossal cakes. After the turn of the century, the mattresses made way for boats and discarded playground equipment.

Rubins represented the United States at the 1993 Venice Biennale. Many museums of modern and contemporary art in Europe and the United States showed her work.

In 2019 ART ZUID showed her ‘Agrifauna Delicata I’, a whirlwind, an outburst of birds and deer, which are propelled into the air by an unknown force.