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Charlie Rubin '08
Charlie Rubin '08

The "Strange Paradise" of Charlie Rubin '08

The photographs of Charlie Rubin ’08 make the ordinary seem extraordinary. In Strange Paradise, a new book that collects the work of the Brooklyn-based artist, fronds of a fern, a pattern on the upholstery of a train’s seat, and the twisted branch of a skinny tree are all overlaid with similar psychedelic splashes of color—some naturally occurring and others created with computer manipulation or painting and collage in post-production. This not only adds whimsy to everyday objects, but also acts as a comment on technology’s effect on the medium of photography.

“Some [of my] photographs are altered by a process of adding ink or found objects over photographic prints and rescanning them,” says Rubin. “This helps reinforce the play between what is ‘real’ in the images and what is altered, and changes the history of the image. Through this method, a certain tension is created, which could reflect a changing culture or our digital age.”

That changing culture has, however, been good to Rubin. The former growth and structure of cities major and 2012 graduate of Parsons the New School for Design’s M.F.A. program in photography has been experiencing his first taste of professional success. In September, he was chosen for the “Talent Issue” of Foam, the international magazine of photography. Almost 1,600 photographers applied for the honor, and Rubin was one of only 16 who were selected to be profiled in the Fall 2013 issue. Additionally, photos by the winners were shown at a small exhibition in Amsterdam during the Unseen Photo Fair in September and are part of an exhibition at Rosphoto in St. Petersburg, Russia, which runs through mid-March.

“It’s really good exposure—and that’s one important aspect of being an emerging artist,” says Rubin of his Foam award. “There is also validation that comes along with it. Sometimes [art] can be a frustrating field, and these things start to substantiate your career in a way that is hard to express otherwise.”

With the recent release of his book and the cross-country signing events that it has brought, Rubin has been busy. He also recently started a series of open-call art shows in Brooklyn, called Neighboring Walls, and contributed to B-Sides, a project that shares the cellphone photos of artists. Going forward, he has more photos to take, more art to create—he’s currently experimenting with tapestry and other unique display methods—and more of his imagination to mine for inspiration. After all, “a Charlie Rubin image is,” he says, “vivid, dreamlike, and a bit odd.”

—Rebecca Raber

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This article originally appeared in the Winter 2014 issue of Haverford magazine.

Students cross in front of Founders Hall.

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