Nancy Rubins

Nancy Rubins

American, born 1952

Monochrome for Austin

Stainless steel and aluminum 600 × 642 × 492 inches
Commission, Landmarks, The University of Texas at Austin, 2015
Location: Northwest corner of 24th Street and Speedway (NHB) GPS: 30.287462, -97.737132

Nancy Rubins

American, born 1952

More Information

Project History

Landmarks commissioned artist Nancy Rubins to create a site-specific sculpture on the northwest corner of 24th Street and Speedway Drive. Composed of 70 aluminum canoes and small boats, the sculpture, titled Monochrome for Austin, draws its support from a steel armature and intertwining cables. Each boat was individually positioned by Rubins and her crew of five over a three-week period. Standing at 50 feet tall, it is the largest sculpture in the collection and will feature prominently when future plans for a scenic, pedestrian-only Speedway are realized.

Nancy Princenthal, an art critic and faculty member of the School of Visual Arts, contributed the artist essay, which provides greater detail about Rubins and her work.

Funding for Monochrome for Austin was provided by the capital improvement project for the Norman Hackerman Building. This project was the result of a collaborative effort among many, but Landmarks would like to give special thanks to the following: Nancy Rubins, Michael Johnson, Colin Cook, Tim Rogeberg, Joel Searles, Bill Shambaugh, Christian Schneider, Dean Linda Hicke and the College of Natural Sciences, OFPC and project managers Keith Westmoreland, The Beck Group, CO Architects, Sasaki and Associates, HMG & Associates, Inc., and Jaime Garza of Nabih Youssef Structural Engineers.

Press Highlights

VIDEO: Nancy Rubins Talks About Her Massive New Monochrome Sculpture in Austin
artnet News, 29 July 2015
Artist Nancy Rubins's latest sculpture, Monochrome for Austin (2015) is currently situated at Landmarks, the public art program of the University of Texas at Austin. Monochrome is a dazzling, large-scale assemblage made from 70 aluminum canoes and small boats. 

Intersection of Art and Engineering
Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin, 03 March 2015
A fascinating large-scale sculpture was recently installed near the engineering complex, assembled from vintage aluminum canoes and small boats. A sight to behold, it clearly requires innovative structural support. This is where the skills and talents of engineer and UT Austin alumnus Jaime Garza (BSARE 2002) help carry out the artist’s vision. 

Nancy Rubins’ ‘Monochrome for Austin’ an elegant monument for UT
Jeanne Claire van Ryzin, Austin American-Statesman, 28 February 2015
A bouquet of aluminum canoes and boats blossoms over a busy pedestrian intersection on the University of Texas campus. Laced together with thick, twisted cable, the collection of boats — 70 in all — cantilevers dramatically over the sidewalk, listing as it perches on a concrete column. Called “Monochrome for Austin,” the sculpture by Nancy Rubins stands 50 feet tall and stretches about as wide. 

See 'Monochrome for Austin' on the UT Campus
Mike Lee, KUT, 25 February 2015
Since 2008, the folks at Landmarks have been commissioning and installing public art across the University of Texas campus. Piece by piece, they're turning the university into a self-guided outdoor museum space. 

Austin's Newest Piece Of Public Art Is A 50-Foot-Tall Sculpture Made Out Of Old Boats
Dan Solomon, Fast Company, 09 February 2015
Austin is a city of many charms, but its public art has always been somewhat limited: There's the famous "Hi How Are You" frog mural painted by Daniel Johnston on the side of what was once a record store (and is now a Thai restaurant that recently changed its name to "Thai How Are You," because Austin), and there've been colorfully painted guitar sculptures strewn about the city. 

UT Will Celebrate its Much-Anticipated New Gargantuan Nancy Rubins Commission
Christina Rees, Glasstire, 05 February 2015
Nancy Rubins, Californian sculptor of things fantastically giant, metal, and distressing (but great that way), will be on hand next month when University of Texas at Austin celebrates its newest campus public artwork, her Monochrome for Austin (2015). 

Watch the largest sculpture in University of Texas history come to life
Arden Ward, CultureMap Austin, 03 February 2015
The newest art installation on the University of Texas at Austin campus is ready to wow those who encounter its imposing structure. Located at 24th Street and Speedway, Nancy Rubins' three-story "Monochrome for Austin" is the largest piece in UT Landmarks history. 

Building Landmarks
Andrew Roush, Alcalde, 15 January 2015
It’s 4:30 p.m. on a lip-chappingly cold Wednesday during the intersession, and campus is dead. The normally bustling stretch of Speedway between 21st Street and Dean Keaton is deserted, so there’s no one to gawk at the jumbled pile of canoes, kayaks, and other small watercraft that is washed up in front of the Norman Hackerman Building on 24th Street. 

Press Release - 4 February 2015

Landmarks to Celebrate Large-Scale Sculpture at The University of Texas: Nancy Rubins’s Monochrome for Austin

Artist Q&A and reception to take place March 5th with live music, food, and drinks

Austin, Texas – 4 February 2015 – On 5 March 2015, Landmarks, the award-winning public art program of The University of Texas at Austin, will celebrate its latest installation: Monochrome for Austin by artist Nancy Rubins. Located on the university’s main campus at the corner of 24th Street and Speedway Drive, Nancy Rubins’s sculpture is a large-scale assemblage made from seventy aluminum canoes and small boats. Landmarks will celebrate this installation with an artist Q&A and a reception that will include live music, food, and beverages. The event is free to the public with advance registration.

Standing fifty feet tall, Monochrome for Austin is the largest sculpture in the Landmarks collection to date. This project also presents the first large-scale sculpture commissioned by a female artist for the Austin campus. Funded through the Art in Public Spaces policy, which designates 1–2 percent of new construction and major renovation funds go toward public art through the Capital Improvement Fund, Monochrome for Austin complements the Norman Hackerman Building and serves to promote dialogue and debate. 

Monochrome for Austin is an instant icon for Texas, capturing the imagination and energy of this flagship university,” said Andrée Bober, Landmarks director. “Few artists can balance grace and power on an architectural scale like Nancy Rubins; her bold sculpture is already stimulating important conversations that are the lifeblood of our university. I hope it inspires all who appreciate beauty and wit.”

Since the 1970s, Nancy Rubins has been transforming everyday materials and manufactured objects into dramatic sculptures. Her work extends and challenges the tradition of modernist sculpture, experimenting with the interplay of gravity, balance, form, and beauty. Monochrome for Austin, which draws its support from a steel armature and intertwining cables, is deceptively strong and gracefully juxtaposes the surrounding university buildings. Rubins completed the installation of the sculpture during the first half of January 2015. 

Nancy Rubins’s Monochrome for Austin Celebration and Q&A

Where: Norman Hackerman Building, University of Texas at Austin, 100 E. 24th Street, Austin, TX 78712

When: Thursday, 5 March 2015
5:30 PM – Public Q&A with artist Nancy Rubins and art critic Nancy Princenthal
6:30 PM – Celebratory reception on the Norman Hackerman Bldg. patio

About Landmarks

Landmarks is the award-winning public art program of The University of Texas at Austin. It presents more than thirty-five modern and contemporary works of art across the university’s main campus, providing a broad and free opportunity for all to engage with great works of art. The collection and its programs support the university as a leading academic institution and provide a source of civic pride. For more information about Landmarks and its free tours and events, please visit the Landmarks website.

Download the press release.



The University of Texas at Austin
College of Fine Arts
2305 Trinity St., PAC 3.204
Austin, TX 78712

Press Office

Emmy Laursen, Communications Coordinator
The University of Texas at Austin
College of Fine Arts
2305 Trinity St., PAC 3.204
Austin, TX 78712