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Meridel Rubenstein

Meridel Rubenstein



  • Adjunct Faculty, School of Sustainability
  • Photographer
  • Visiting Associate Professor, School of Art, Design and Media, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore


American artist Meridel Rubenstein began her professional career in the early 1970s, evolving from photographer of single photographic images to artist of extended works and multi-media installations. From the beginning her art making has argued for an awareness of how we are connected to place. Her works are known for their unusual combinations of materials and ideas as seen in the work Oppenheimer’s Chair. Here a transparent photographic armored sentry figure guards a glass house filled with white sand. A ghost tree, sandblasted onto the back wall, frames a glass chair upon which video imagery is projected, suggesting the shedding of defensive postures. Commissioned for the 1st Site Santa Fe International Biennial in 1995, this seminal work marked the 50th anniversary of the first atomic test at Trinity, the date on which the Biennial opened.

Her newest work Heaven Turned on its Side focuses on intersections of nature and culture in relationship to ecological and social imbalance. Part I -Photosynthesis contains images of seasons, and of people in relationship to trees. Printed on large floating sheets of paper to give a quality of light and air, the images suggest a reciprocal exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide between trees and people and a more Edenic time when things might have been in balance. Part II involves the Volcano Cycle with images made along the Ring of Fire in Indonesia in collaboration with the Earth Observatory Singapore. Part III will be comprised of images and an art/ecology wastewater garden made at the site of the original Garden of Eden in S. Iraq in collaboration with Dr. Mark Nelson and Nature Iraq, El-Chibaish, Iraq. She is a recent fellow of the World Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Meridel Rubenstein maintains her art studio in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She has been an active arts educator for over 30 years. Since 2006 she has been a Visiting Associate Professor at the School of Art, Design, and Media at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore one semester a year. From 1990-95 she was the Harnish Visiting Artist at Smith College, in Northampton, Massachusetts. She has created photography programs at the College of Santa Fe(1976-80) and the Institute of American Indian Arts in New Mexico(1990-96) and directed the Photography Program at San Francisco State University in California, the oldest Master of Fine Arts program in the USA(1985-90).

She has exhibited widely including most recently the Louvre in Paris and the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin as well as in numerous gallery and museum exhibitions. Her works are in prominent collections including the National Museum of American Art in Washington, the San Francisco Museum of Art, and the Museum fur Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg, Germany. She is currently represented in San Fransisco, CA by Brian Gross Fine Art, in Palm Desert, CA by Greg Bennett Contemporary Art, and in Santa Fe, NM by David Richard Gallery.

Meridel Rubenstein has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Bunting Institute at Harvard University, awards from the National Endowment of the Arts, as well as the Pollock-Krasner and the Rockefeller Foundations. She was educated at Sarah Lawrence College in New York and did special graduate studies at M.I.T. with the eminent photographer, Minor White. She received an M.A. and M.F.A. from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, in 1974 and 1977, where she studied with noted art and photography historian and museum directors Beaumont Newhall and Van Deren Coke.

In October 2004, BELONGING: Los Alamos to Vietnam, Photoworks and Installations, was published by St. Ann’s Press. This major monograph of twenty years of her work, includes texts by environmental writer Terry Tempest Williams, cultural theorist Elaine Scarry, and reknown art writers James Crump, Lucy Lippard, and art and cultural critic Rebecca Solnit. Solnit has written of Rubenstein: a consummate maker of metaphors, an artist who can never talk about only one thing at a time, but speaks of things in relationship, of lives to landscapes, of corporeal location and homing in terms of labyrinths and minotaurs, of bombs in terms of other myths, of physicists in relationship to pueblos.


  • MFA, Fine Arts, University of New Mexico-Albuquerque, 1977
  • MA, Art, University of New Mexico-Albuquerque, 1974
  • MA, Photography, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1973
  • BA, Film and Social Sciences, Sarah Lawrence College, 1970

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