Cynthia Beth Rubin is a new media artist who made the transition from painting to digital in the early 1980s. Rubin’s studio practice evolved with the medium, leading from abstraction to explorations of cultural motifs, to depiction of imagined memories of place. Her studio practice extends from New York City to Narragansett, RI.

The recipient of numerous awards and international residencies, her work has been presented internationally and written about ten languages. Although her current work primarily deals with the hidden microscopic life in our waters, she still holds an interest in cultural heritage.

Currently she is artist in residence in the Menden-Deuer lab in the Graduate School of Oceanography, at the University of Rhode Island, where she collaborates with Oceanographers. She is also collaborating with Yona Verwer on imagery derived from the Jewish Heritage of the Lower East side of New York City.

Rubin’s selected exhibitions include a solo at the Kraft Center for Jewish Life, Columbia/Barnard, New York NY (February, 2013), and numerous showings of Layered Histories: the Wandering Bible of Marseilles (collaboration with Bob Gluck) such as the Jewish Museum, Prague, Czech Republic (2005), Legion Arts Center, Ceder Rapids, Iowa (2009), and Seduced by the Sacred, Jewish Art Salon Charter Oak Cultural Center, Hartford CT (2010). Recent group exhibitions include Waltz with the Earth: Art Kibbutz, Governor’s Island New York NY (2014), Under the Viaduct: West Harlem Art Fund New York NY (2014), Art Gallery at SIGGRAPH2013 (peer reviewed group exhibition) Anaheim CA (2013), and annual group exhibitions at the Oxford Gallery, Rochester NY.

Her video les affinités recouvrées (Recovered Affinities) was a Florida Film Festival selection, and featured opening night of multiple Jewish Film Festivals in 1995 (San Francisco, Boston), as well as numerous international screenings including Hong Kong, Casablanca, Montreal, and many others, and part of the Middle Eastern studies conference that year.

Rubin's work has been written about in over 10 languages around the world, and her images widely published in books such as The Art of the Digital Age by Bruce Wands, Painting the Digital River by James Faure Walker, and The Computer in the Visual Arts by Anne Morgan Spalter. The critic Catherine Mason wrote about her work as the Computer Art Image of the Month, for BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT.

A three-time recipient of grants from the Connecticut Commission on the Arts, Rubin has also been awarded international artist residencies and grants from sources as diverse as the Videochroniques (Marseilles), New England Foundation for the Arts, and the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture. 

A native of Rochester, NY,  Rubin is a gradate of Antioch College, in Ohio (BA), and the Maryland Institute, College of Art (MFA).

She serves as Chair of the Digital Arts committee of ACM SIGGRAPH, has previously served as Vice-President of ISEA, and is Chair of the jury for the International Student awards program sponsored by Knowledge Capital in Osaka, Japan.

Artist Statement 

The primary public space of our world is the universal space of environmental waters, home to the unseen microscopic life that provides the most elemental life on the food chain. Urban space, all space, depends on the hidden qualities of the water, the activities of the micro-organisms that are the pulse of the ocean.

Bringing awareness of this hidden life to the urban setting, where layers of culture intertwine with the visible environment but rarely with the invisible, is one of the imperatives of our time. The challenge is how do we engage the public in a narrative that includes a true artistic dialogue?

As an artist who spent decades focusing on the imagined memories and sensations of past times and cultures, I took a similar approach to biologic imagery.  One enters a space and imagines: what are the aesthetics, what are the sensations of the space?  If plankton, the most basic of form of life in our waters, have feelings, what might those feelings be?  If we floated with the plankton, what would we see, not in the literal sense of a photograph, but in the more visceral sense, what color associations, what textures, what movement, would prompt humans to feel the space of the plankton?

The science is still present, revealed through Augmented Reality, with documentary style imagery, answering the “what is it?” Fortunately for my students, my experiences making the transition from cultural heritage to biology allowed me to formulate study enabling them to jump right working as artists, with thoughtful consideration of the science, but with aesthetic connections at the core of the work. This presentation will include a survey of student work and my own work with Plankton Portraits, including still images and extracts from short videos.

More information on earlier works and other projects is at:

CV for download is here: