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Barton Rubenstein

​Barton Rubenstein is an internationally renowned sculptor known for his significant contributions to public art. He has completed over 100 public art projects spanning various countries, from urban cityscapes and state parks to corporate headquarters, commercial spaces, academic campuses, and private homes.

He explores motion through mechanical and natural means. Rubenstein incorporates engineering, environmentalism, and aesthetics into his sculpture. He continuously explores the possibilities of movement, viewer interaction, and the fusion of technology and art, demonstrating the endless possibilities of dynamic expression.

The Mother Earth Project

The Mother Earth Project, launched in 2015, is a visionary initiative by scientist and public artist Barton Rubenstein and his family. This global art movement harnesses the transformative power of creativity to promote sustainability, demands better climate laws, and fosters a deeper connection with our environment. Central to this project is the Mother Earth sculpture, a striking symbol of environmental stewardship and unity, gracing cities worldwide—from Washington, D.C., to Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Guilin, China, among others.

Portrait of a Nation Award

Commissioned by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery, the Portrait of a Nation Award is a biennial accolade designed by Barton Rubenstein. This distinguished award, crafted from stainless steel and standing 12 inches high, is presented at the Gallery's Gala Event to honor eminent Americans who have significantly contributed to the nation. It symbolizes excellence and service to the United States.


The creation of this award is intricately linked with the historical and aspirational evolution of the National Portrait Gallery. 


Powered by Grief

Powered by Grief: My Journey as a Scientist, Artist, and Activist, by Dr. Barton Rubenstein, is a memoir that charts the evolution from a cherished childhood overshadowed by his mother's death to a prolific career bridging science, art, and activism. This narrative details his journey from personal loss to becoming a leader in environmental advocacy and an innovative creator of public art.




Rubenstein's work is deeply inspired by the natural world, evident in his water, wind kinetic, and suspended sculptures. Each genre allows him to explore and interpret nature's inherent beauty and raw power through his artistic lens.

Wind Kinetic Sculptures

Water Sculptures

Vertical Sculptures in Suspension

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Mother Earth Project

The "Mother Earth Project," launched in 2015, is a visionary initiative by scientist and public artist Barton Rubenstein. This global art movement harnesses the transformative power of creativity to promote sustainability and foster a deeper connection with our environment. Central to this project is the Mother Earth sculpture, a striking symbol of environmental stewardship and unity, gracing cities worldwide—from Washington, D.C., to Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Guilin, China.   Mother Earth transcends cultural and national boundaries, embodying a universal human profile inspired by the profound ties between humanity and the Earth. This piece serves as a tribute to the unsung female heroes who have shaped nations and stands as a poignant reminder of our shared responsibility to the planet.

Powered by Grief

Powered by Grief: My Journey as a Scientist, Artist, and Activist,
by Dr. Barton Rubenstein

Powered by Grief: My Journey as a Scientist, Artist, and Activist, by Dr. Barton Rubenstein, is a memoir that charts the evolution from a cherished childhood overshadowed by his mother's death to a prolific career bridging science, art, and activism. This narrative details his journey from personal loss to becoming a leader in environmental advocacy and an innovative creator of public art. The book highlights key moments of reflection, family connections, and the deep inspiration derived from nature. It also outlines Rubenstein's significant scientific contributions in the 1990s, his artistic achievements, and his pivotal role in the Mother Earth Project, which advances global sustainability efforts. This compelling account of resilience and the human spirit illustrates how personal adversity can fuel a lifelong dedication to creativity and environmental responsibility.

Portrait of a Nation

Commissioned by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery, the Portrait of a Nation Award is a biennial accolade designed by Barton Rubenstein. This distinguished award, crafted from stainless steel and standing 12 inches high, is presented at the Gallery's Gala Event to honor eminent Americans who have significantly contributed to the nation. It symbolizes excellence and service to the United States. The creation of this award is intricately linked with the historical and aspirational evolution of the National Portrait Gallery. Initially conceived to honor a notable American woman as part of an effort to diversify the gallery's predominantly male and white historical portrait representation, the project took a broader scope under Rubenstein’s vision to recognize the collective spirit of the nation’s mothers and grandmothers. This pivot reflects a deepened engagement with community and diversity, championed by NPG Director Kim Sajet, who redirected the initiative towards supporting the gallery’s ever-diversifying programs through the NPG Gala Events. Now, every two years, approximately five of these awards are crafted by Rubenstein, serving as potent symbols of achievement and contributing to a richer, more inclusive narrative at the gallery. The "Portrait of a Nation Award" not only celebrates distinguished individual achievements but also underscores the profound collective impact of those who have enriched the American story.

The Work

Kinetic sculpture

Kinetic sculpture, an art form integrating movement, has evolved from ancient mechanical devices to sophisticated, interactive installations. Early influences include Renaissance automata, while the 20th century formalized kinetic art with pioneers like Naum Gabo and Alexander Calder, who explored motion through mechanical and natural means. The movement expanded with technological advances, incorporating electronics and digital elements, leading to contemporary works by artists like Theo Jansen and Reuben Margolin, who blend engineering, environmentalism, and aesthetics. Kinetic sculpture's development reflects a continuous exploration of movement, viewer interaction, and the fusion of technology and art, demonstrating the endless possibilities of dynamic expression.

Water sculpture

Water sculpture, an art form that uses water as its principal medium, traces its origins to ancient civilizations where fountains and aquatic designs were integral to gardens and public spaces, symbolizing power, religious beliefs, and aesthetic values. In the Renaissance, artists and architects like Gian Lorenzo Bernini advanced the art form, creating elaborate fountains in Rome that combined sculpture, architecture, and water engineering to dramatic effect. The 20th century saw a shift towards integration with modernist and contemporary art movements, with artists like Isamu Noguchi and Jean Tinguely incorporating water into kinetic sculptures to explore its fluid dynamics, reflective qualities, and sensory impacts. Today, water sculpture encompasses a broad range of practices, from public fountains and environmental art to interactive installations, continuing to captivate by merging the elemental beauty of water with artistic expression.

Wind sculpture

Wind sculpture, an art form harnessing the natural force of wind, has ancient roots in cultures worldwide, seen in wind chimes, banners, and mobiles. However, its formal recognition emerged in the 20th century with artists like Alexander Calder pioneering kinetic art, creating delicate, balanced mobiles that respond to air currents. In the mid-20th century, Jean Tinguely furthered the exploration of wind's influence by constructing large-scale, self-propelled sculptures that critiqued modern society's mechanization. As the century progressed, artists like George Rickey and Theo Jansen expanded the boundaries of wind sculpture, utilizing advanced materials and engineering to create dynamic, interactive installations that reflect the ever-changing nature of wind and challenge perceptions of static art. Today, wind sculpture continues to evolve with contemporary artists integrating technology and sustainability into their designs, demonstrating the enduring fascination with capturing the ephemeral beauty and power of wind through artistic expression.

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