Portrait of the Artist is an interactive self-portrait based on a three-dimensional surface scan of Jennifer Rubell's body performed in her studio when she was eight months pregnant. The eight-meter (over four times life size) steel-reinforced fiberglass sculpture depicts the nude artist in the odalisque position, with her belly carved out so that viewers may crawl inside and rest or pose there. The egg-shaped cavity naturally guides them toward the fetal position.

Participation is essential to the piece.

Portrait of the Artist continues Rubell's practice of creating artwork that encourages viewers to transgress the traditional viewer-artwork boundary by offering an irresistible prompt to interaction. Once this interaction takes place, it changes not only the viewer's physical relationship to the art object, but also the viewer's relationship to other viewers; to the art institution; and (in this case, very explicitly) to the artist.

Portrait of the Artist is part of an ongoing series of works that explore female and feminine life stages -- including engagement, marriage, pregnancy, and motherhood – which are normally excluded from the narrative of an artist's life.

Fiberglass, steel, paint
283 x 118 x 98'' (L x W x H)


 Photos by Stephen White