"“Exploring the Effortless“ is part of a new series of budding works. The title reflects my new commitment to cultivating more comfort and ease in my life. In this work I explore the use of vibrant colors and contrasting texture from graphite and oil pastel against a flat layer of color. I love using a variety of materials and marks in this series. I am excited about working in this size not only because it’s a challenge but also because I love the feeling you get when you stand in front of a painting and it feels so large that it’s going to swallow you up. The space in this piece is crowded and chaotic but also has a sense of organization, which mirrors what life feels like for me day to day. I am constantly trying to find structure and routine while managing unpredictable symptoms that affect my energy, pain levels and ability to think clearly. Finding a way to paint this experience brings me some peace."
- Madison Elyse Rubenstein
Prints are produced on demand on stretched canvas, acrylic plexi, or giclee fine art paper in a variety of sizes here in the United States.
Contact ArtLifting for larger size options.
“Making art is not only a self-reflective practice, but also one that makes it possible to dream and imagine new futures.”
Madison’s intricate, colorful art leaves the viewer captivated all while exploring important topics of the body, gender and disability. Born in Los Angeles, Madison later moved to Minnesota during childhood. Just like any young child they were drawn to art materials and creating images of the world around them. This creative passion was immediately nourished by their parents, who enrolled them in summer art classes as early as age five.
Around age six, Madison started developing chronic pain and extreme executive dysfunction due to untreated mental illness and stress at home. Not before long, drawing and painting became their tool to create visual representations for what they were experiencing. As Madison describes, “Art became my language and catharsis.”
Growing up, Madison felt restricted by gender norms, so art became their therapeutic space to process these emotions. “Art is an unrestricted realm where I can freely express and explore my gender, my disabilities, my thoughts, my dreams, and my emotions without judgment. The only limit is what I can imagine, and my access to resources to create art,” they share.
Madison explores complex topics such as our relationships with our bodies. Living with multiple comorbidities including PTSD and fibromyalgia, they use art to address inner conflict while visualizing their body in harmony. They explain, “I paint abstract representations of my body in transitory spaces that either reflect tension within the body or an imagined space where I feel liberated from the restrictions of my physical form. The deeper I dive into my practice and develop my visual language, the more I heal my relationship with my body.”
Madison is inspired by Abject Art, an art movement exploring the visceral quality of the body’s functions, especially things that may seem impure or taboo, such as illness. They describe, “I’m drawn to this style of art because of the way it challenges what is ‘normal’ for our bodies, and its capacity to force us to reckon with the strangeness of our own physical forms.” They go on to say, “Much of my work is large-scale because I want the viewer to relate the forms in my images to their own body, and for the scale of the image to seemingly engulf them.”
When beginning a new work of art, Madison begins by sketching out the structure and composition of the image using colored pencils or graphite. They follow this by building up the image with light washes of paint to create a base for the image. Madison describes, “I continue to paint to build up the surface while defining shape and form; fleshing out midtones, highlights and shadows to give the image weight.” Madison’s experience at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design led them to explore water-based media such as india ink and gouache. They love how these fluid, organic qualities enable her to “create visual spaces that feel transitory, in motion, and emotional.”
Other materials that they explore include oil pastels and oil paints, which they use to create highly-saturated impasto paintings. They enjoy making small, still-life sculptures that inspire their abstract, mixed-media paintings. Utilizing a variety of media and markmaking materials such as palette knives, carving tools, brushes and piping bags, Madison can unleash a plethora of texture and color. While intentionally examining composition and form, Madison also arranges colors purposefully to accentuate and vibrate off one another, leaving a lasting impression on the viewer.
Reflecting on their life journey so far, Madison says their most important accomplishment is graduating from college. They hoped to attend art school, but the financial investment was out of reach. Madison tried to attend a liberal arts college, but found themselves struggling with academics, mental health, physical health, and substance abuse. Recognizing the need for change, they returned home to a community college where they rebuilt their GPA and health through dedication and perseverance. After 5 1⁄2 years of undergrad, Madison proudly received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in one of the top accredited private art schools in the country, Minneapolis College of Art & Design.
Despite hardship, Madison expresses, “Making art gives me a reason to survive beyond my difficulties with my health and chronic pain.” Though they are often in bed due to the effects of the illnesses, they devote any time they have to creating. The COVID-19 pandemic created new challenges, including less access to health resources as well as losing their housing. Thankfully, they currently have stable housing and continue freelance work when they feel well enough. The chronic and unpredictable nature of their illness makes consistent, long-term employment nearly impossible at this time, however, their art career continues to thrive due to their hard work, resilience, and passion for creating.
Madison centers their values and beliefs around the Jewish concept: “none of us are free until we are all free.” As an Ashkenzai Jew whose ancestors on both parents sides fled Western Europe to escape war and anti-semitism, Madison proudly supports any cause that wishes to seek justice for marginalized people. This includes involvement in their LBGTQIA+ community, disability justice, racial justice and mad justice. They hope that ArtLifting will enable them to improve their quality of life, helping them to afford treatment for chronic pain, medications, supplements, mobility aids, doctor recommended foods, and more. They dream of being able to support themselves completely and having extra income to support family, community members, and their art career.
“When someone connects to artwork they are connecting with something outside of language. People connect with art in ways that are intuitive and profound. Knowing my artwork resonates with someone creates an opportunity for us both to feel seen and understood.”
ArtLifting champions artists impacted by disabilities and housing insecurity by connecting their art with socially-conscious customers . Learn more here.