Press Releases

Exhibition Announcement - "Nancy Rubins: Drawing, Sculpture, Studies"

Release date: January 22, 2014

Exhibition Announcement -

February 8 – May 4, 2014

Nancy Rubins: Director's Preview, Artist Talk + Public Reception
Friday, February 7, 5-8:30 pm

[scroll to bottom for downloadable documents]

The Weatherspoon Art Museum at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro is pleased to present the exhibition, Nancy Rubins: Drawing, Sculpture, Studies, from February 8 – May 4, 2014. Nancy Rubins is known for her large-scale commissioned sculptures composed of boats and airplane parts as well as for her extraordinary graphite drawings—all elegant forms that adventurously confront gravity and transform materials into objects of extraordinary visual beauty. 

This exhibition is the first to explore the relationships among her work in various media and focuses on the career arc of one of the foremost sculptors working today. Nancy Rubins: Drawing, Sculpture, Studies includes the major sculptural installation, Drawings & Hot Water Heaters (1991-95), small to monumental graphite drawings (dating from 1975 to the present), collages, bronzes, and studies for major outdoor commissions, accompanied by a number of short films by Michael Rudnick that document the fascinating process of their installation.

Among the works that brought Rubins early recognition are large drawings made of heavy paper coated with graphite. Constructed in parts, these works “perform:” cantilevering from walls and ceilings, wrapping around corners, and twisting in balletic movement, they defy the usual parameters of their genre and convey contradictory impressions of mass and lightness. In wizardly and paradoxical fashion, Rubins’s large-scale installations make bulky, pre-fabricated boats and plane parts seem delicate and nearly weightless. Further characterizing her work are a co-mingling of the muscular and the graceful and the combination of formal muster and conceptual wit. 

Rubins’s work has been discussed in terms of the environment, recycling, and consumerism but in the end it defies categorization. In her essay for the exhibition catalogue, noted art critic and author Nancy Princenthal points out that Rubins does not set out to make literal statements about these topical issues but, rather, strikes “a practiced balance between sublime disaster and joyful regeneration.” Rubins is attracted to the beauty and potential of the airplane parts and boats that she uses: they are the starting point of content in her work. “At a certain point,” she says, “the content does fall by the wayside and a certain formalism sets in, but my initial interest in the object is very important.”

Accompanying the exhibition is a 168-page catalogue that is the major publication to date on Rubins’s oeuvre. In addition to reproductions of all works in the exhibition, the book includes images of her early work as a student at the Maryland Institute of Art and the University of California, Davis, her major public commissions, important installations, and numerous other drawings and collages. Co-published by DelMonico Books/Prestel, the monograph features essays by art critic and author Nancy Princenthal and Weatherspoon Art Museum director Nancy Doll, and an interview with the artist by Weatherspoon curator of exhibitions Xandra Eden.

“This is one of the largest projects the Weatherspoon has ever taken on,” comments director Nancy Doll. “We feel privileged to have worked closely with Nancy Rubins, her assistants, and galleries in realizing such a major effort that gives long overdue attention to an artist whose work holds a significant place in the realm of contemporary sculpture and has had a huge impact on the work of numerous other artists.”

Artist’s Bio

Nancy Rubins earned her BFA from The Maryland Institute of Art, Baltimore, and her MFA from the University of California, Davis. She has received numerous awards and major commissions including Monochrome for Paris, Université de Paris Diderot (2013); Big Edge, CityCenter, Las Vegas (2009); Big Pleasure Point, Lincoln Center, New York (2006); and Pleasure Point, San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art (2006). Rubins was born in Naples, Texas, and lives and works in Topanga, California. She is represented by Gagosian Gallery, Beverly Hills and Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York.

The exhibition is co-curated by Weatherspoon Director Nancy Doll and Curator of Exhibitions Xandra Eden and is accompanied by a 168-page catalogue, co-published by DelMonico Books/Prestel that features essays by Nancy Princenthal, Doll, and an interview by Eden. Nancy Rubins: Drawing, Sculpture, Studies is made possible through the support of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, Dedalus Foundation, Inc., Gail Boulton, Jane and Richard Levy, the North Carolina Arts Council (a division of the Department of Cultural Resources), Fifth Floor Foundation, and the Weatherspoon Art Museum Association.

Image (at top): Nancy Rubins, Drawing, 2005, graphite pencil on paper, 134 x 379 x 12 in. Courtesy of Gagosian Gallery, Beverly Hills. Photo: Erich Koyama.

Related Education and Public Programming 

Nancy Rubins: Director's Preview, Artist Talk + Public Reception
Friday, February 7, 5-8:30 pm
  Director's Preview, 5 pm, WAM members at the Contributor level and above, RSVP required
  Artist Talk with Nancy Princenthal, 6 pm, Free and open to the public. Seating is limited. Up to two seats may be reserved. 
  Public Reception, 7-8:30 pm, Free and open to the public. Members receive two complimentary drink tickets. No reservations required.

Reserve tickets for the Artist Talk online , or contact Cathy Rogers at or (336) 256-1450. Please note, seating for the Public Artist Talk is limited. Link.

Spring Family Day
Saturday, March 1, 1-4 pm
Enjoy hands-on and high-flying activities inspired by the Nancy Rubins exhibition, live music, gallery games, and refreshments. Weatherspoon Family Days are fun and FREE for all ages!  Link.

Noon @ the 'Spoon Public Tour
Tuesday, March 11, 12 pm
A 20-minute docent-led tour. Free.  Link.

Art After Dark Workshop
Thursday, March 20, 6-8 pm
Lynn Book and Amy Catanzano are two artists with stratospheric imaginations. They are kindred spirits in plumbing diverse sources in their own creative works, ranging from poetry and neo-scientific fiction to performance. Join them on March 20 for an event comprised of a lecture, reading, and interaction illuminating the extraordinary work of artist Nancy Rubins. Free. Please pre-register by calling Terri Dowell-Dennis at (336) 256-1449 or email,  Link.

Noon @ the 'Spoon: P.O.V.
Tuesday, April 1, 12 pm
Director Nancy Doll and Curator of Exhibitions Xandra Eden lead a special Noon @ the 'Spoon: POV tour of their co-curated exhibition, Nancy Rubins: Drawing, Sculpture. Noon @ the 'Spoon: POV is a 30 minute program that invites scholars, curators and artists across disciplines to share their expertise and points-of-view on a particular exhibition or work of art. Free.  Link.

NEW! Sunday Tours - Nancy Rubins: Drawing, Sculpture, Studies
Sundays, February 9 - May 4, 2 pm
A 30 minute public tour featuring the exhibition Nancy Rubins: Drawing, Sculpture, Studies is offered each Sunday at 2pm, Feb 9-May 4, 2014. Free. All ages welcome. (No public tour on Sunday, March 30 and April 20.)  Free. Link.

For a complete, updated list of programs, visit:

Guided + Self-Guided Visits
School and community groups are invited to visit the museum on their own or via a docent-led tour. Admission and tours are free. Please contact us at least three weeks in advance to schedule your visit, 336.334.5770 or

About the Weatherspoon Art Museum

The Weatherspoon Art Museum at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro acquires, preserves, exhibits, and interprets modern and contemporary art for the benefit of its multiple audiences, including university, community, regional, and beyond. Through these activities, the museum recognizes its paramount role of public service, and enriches the lives of diverse individuals by fostering an informed appreciation and understanding of the visual arts and their relationship to the world in which we live.

The Weatherspoon Art Museum at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro was founded by Gregory Ivy in 1941 and is the earliest of any art facilities within the UNC system.  The museum was founded as a resource for the campus, community, and region and its early leadership developed an emphasis—maintained to this day—on presenting and acquiring modern and contemporary works of art. A 1949 bequest from the renowned collection of Claribel and Etta Cone, which included prints and bronzes by Henri Matisse and other works on paper by American and European modernists, helped to establish the Weatherspoon’s permanent collection.  Other prescient acquisitions during Ivy’s tenure included a 1951 suspended mobile by Alexander Calder, Woman by Willem de Kooning—a pivotal work in the artist’s career that was purchased in 1954, and the first drawings by Eva Hesse and Robert Smithson to enter a museum collection.
In 1989, the museum moved into its present location in The Anne and Benjamin Cone Building designed by the architectural firm Mitchell/Giurgola. The museum has six galleries and a sculpture courtyard with over 17,000 square feet of exhibition space.  The American Association of Museums accredited the Weatherspoon in 1995 and renewed its accreditation in 2005.

Collections + Exhibitions
The permanent collection of the Weatherspoon Art Museum is considered to be one of the foremost of its kind in the Southeast.  It represents all major art movements from the beginning of the 20th century to the present. Of the nearly 6,000 works in the collection are pieces by such prominent figures as Sol LeWitt, Robert Mangold, Cindy Sherman, Al Held, Alex Katz, Henry Ossawa Tanner, Louise Nevelson, Mark di Suvero, Deborah Butterfield, and Robert Rauschenberg. The museum regularly lends to major exhibitions nationally and internationally.

The Weatherspoon also is known for its adventurous and innovative exhibition program. Through a dynamic annual calendar of fifteen to eighteen exhibitions and a multi-disciplinary educational program for audiences of all ages, the museum provides an opportunity for audiences to consider artistic, cultural, and social issues of our time and enriches the life of our university, community, and region.

Weatherspoon Art Museum
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Spring Garden and Tate Streets, PO Box 26170
Greensboro, NC 27402-6170, 336.334.5770,

For more information or press images, contact: 
Loring Mortensen, 336-256-1451,


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