Corcoran Students Prepare for NEXT

One artist's process as she readies for the school's annual thesis presentation.

Chloe Rubenstein
Chloe Rubenstein. (Photo: William Atkins)
March 31, 2015

The inaugural class of the George Washington University Corcoran School of the Arts and Design is preparing for NEXT, the school’s annual thesis presentation. Featuring artistic interpretations of students’ experiences beyond the classroom NEXT introduces the art community to fresh perspectives in contemporary art and has helped many young artists launch their careers.

Among those young artists is Chloe Rubenstein, who is working on a collaborative project with local brewery Hellbender. Below are a few snapshots of Ms. Rubenstein’s process. (All photos by William Atkins)

This mural is part of Ms. Rubenstein's collaboration with local brewery Hellbender. It involves a branding package, label designs and two murals. Hellbender is a sustainable business—named for the endangered Hellbender salamander native to D.C. waters, a number of which are depicted in Ms. Rubenstein's piece—that focuses on restoring and preserving the ecosystems of the Anacostia and Potomac rivers. "The idea behind the project was to bring commercial work into a gallery space," Ms. Rubenstein said.

During NEXT's opening event, Hellbender's owners will run a beer tasting in the gallery space, which Ms. Rubenstein calls the "performance" element of her work. "I’m currently mulling over some ideas on how to make the bar be cohesive with the piece. So as of right now, I’m thinking of having the bar set up right in front of those black and white stripes with a matching black and white tablecloth, so it almost pushes that movement of the bar right into the piece."

"I used this really electric color palette. I wanted it to stick out in the space, but also work well with the fact that I’m in a room with a bunch of color photo students." 

"I wanted to tie together my piece with both of my classmates on both sides of me [in the gallery]. One is all about nature, and the other is kind of about dreams. And mine is kind of about ambition. So I think it was a cool connection to have all three of us coincidentally in the same spot. I think that’s sort of what’s great, as a muralist who paints in the moment. It’s cool to work with what you’ve got going on around you.


Her work is "a little bit provocative," Ms. Rubenstein said. "Is it technically fine art? Is it appropriate to be putting promotional things in a space like this? I mean, what I’m doing is just simply painting, but I’m also part of something commercial. It’s not like a classical sculpture or a painting. It’s definitely a different direction."