Born and raised in New York City, exposed to the city’s creative blur from birth, Leslie Rubman took her first art class at the age of 43. As a self-taught, mixed media artist she collected materials everywhere she went. The soon-to-be gentrified abandoned factories of Hoboken in the 90s became her haunt, the forgotten detritus of past ages being reborn in her abstract assemblages, her artistic foundation built on the ruins of the recent and remote past.
In early 1996 working from her dining room table, Ms. Rubman starting cutting up extra photographs producing two and three dimensional collages. Soon thereafter Ms. Rubman sublet a small studio in the nearby Monroe Center, formally the home of the Levelor Blind Company, now a barely converted artists’ building. She received a gift of chocolates in a real wooden box and the empty box became the base for the first of a series of assemblages that would eventually total 31 works: thus began the Candy Box Series, a format Ms. Rubman would work in from 1997-2002. The last assemblage, made in June 2002, was dedicated to those who died on 9-11-2001.
Commissioned by her father to create a large piece for his New York City apartment, Ms. Rubman began her largest work to date, based on a discarded wooden door, and completed just before her mother’s death; Home Again. Emotionally distraught and artistically struggling, Ms. Rubman met a fellow artist who suggested finding a new format for her assemblages. That was the push which got her 'out of the box', and she began working on wood panels. The Home Again Series continued through 2003, culminating in a mutated double helix made from tiny fabric pieces cut from her mother's blouse to evoke the family struggle with a genetic disease.
At the start of 2004 Ms. Rubman quit her day job as a pediatric occupational therapist and for 8 months worked uninterrupted in her studio creating the Numbers Game Series I-V celebrating her 50 years. This playful display of her favorite childhood games juxtaposed with numbers made for a delightful journey which solidified her passion and commitment to the creative process.
In late 2004 Ms. Rubman collected bags of saved objects from her parents' friend's garage on Allenwood Road in Great Neck, NY. The dilapidated wood Adirondack chairs, bark from the backyard tree and rusted metals from a beach nearby fueled a series of 8 sculptural pieces made between 2005-2007. Using the wood mostly in its naturally decayed state (though some pieces were altered with paint), the Allenwood Road Series solidified Ms. Rubman's love for using found and recycled materials.
Ms. Rubman has been inspired by the works of Georgia O’Keeffe and her concept of "filling space in a beautiful way". Another influence has been Robert Rauschenberg’s use of multiple ideas that "either calmly or less calmly just happen to exist at the same time". For Ms. Rubman, using found and recycled objects signifies the transformation of history; a past-life experience re-created into a current portrait.