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Nancy Rubins: Our Friend Fluid Metal

Sept 30, 2021–fall 2022

Exhibition

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Throughout her career, Nancy Rubins has amassed found everyday objects—mobile trailers, canoes, airplane parts, and playground equipment—into monumental sculptures. Her enormous, powerful assemblages, secured together with thin steel trusses and tension cables, explode into space and appear to defy gravity. 

A photograph of a series of sculpture by artist Nancy Rubins. In this photograph, two sculpture appear to soar through the sky. They are made up of colorful piece of metal that were formerly children's ride equipment on playgrounds. The playground animals are tied together with metal trusses and balanced precariously.

An installation of Nancy Rubins’s Our Friend Fluid Metal in Topanga, California. Photo by Erich Koyama.


In her series Our Friend Fluid Metal, Rubins transforms children’s equipment from playgrounds, amusement parks, and coin-operated rides into dynamic, colorful sculptures that uncannily cantilever and bloom out of the ground. Weathered from use, this equipment was originally produced with metal recycled from World War II aircraft, and Rubins’s careful aggregations of these cast-off objects give them a new life. “What I love about [them],” Rubins says, “is that they’ve had so much use. The initial use of what it was before it was these objects, and then thousands of children who jumped on these things and wore them down, and they’ve been painted and repainted again. They had their own life way before I ever got them.” 

Two works from this series are presented in Chicago for the first time in an installation composed by the artist for the Bluhm Family Terrace.

This exhibition is organized by the Art Institute of Chicago with major funding from the Bluhm Family Endowment Fund, which supports exhibitions of modern and contemporary sculpture.

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