Nancy Rubins For Adolescents

Silhouette of abstract drawing



Nancy Rubins

American, born 1952

Subject: Close looking

Activity: Art Battle: Drawing vs. Sculpture

Materials: Pencil or pen and paper

Vocabulary: Found objects, 3-dimensional, graphite


Nancy Rubins is known primarily for sculpting large works of art like Monochrome for Austin, located outside this building. Even her drawings look like sculpture because they take up 3-dimensional space rather than resting at against a wall. Rubins uses found objects like canoes and airplane parts to create her sculptures because she likes the rough look of large sheets of metal. So it’s no surprise that her drawings look like sheets of metal too.

Rubins’ drawings are made by rubbing graphite in all different directions across a thick piece of paper. There are so many layers of graphite that the paper starts to resemble metal, even curling and buckling from the pressure she applies when pressing the graphite to the paper. 


How is this drawing different from others you’ve seen at a museum?

Does a drawing have to go in a frame and sit at against a wall?

What are some other creative ways to make and hang or display a drawing? 


Look closely at Monochrome for Austin and Drawing and think about the statements below. Look at the statements below for each work of art. Rate them from 1 (No, I do not agree!) to 5 (Yes, I agree!). 

  • The artist used materials in an interesting way. 
  • The art looks sturdy, strong, and well made.
  • The art would look better in a different location; like in a park for Monochrome for Austin or in a gallery for Drawing.
  • The art would look better in a different color or even multicolored. 
  • I want to take this home with me! 

Add up the points on each sheet. Which one has more points?

Do you think this makes it the better work of art? Why or why not? 


Look again

Think about the statements above and try to answer “Why?” to each one. 


Found objects - An everyday object like a canoe that is used to make a work of art.

3-dimensional - A term for a work of art that is not at.

Graphite - A natural material that can be formed into thick sticks and used for drawing. Graphite is the material in a pencil.