The Rubin Center was built with a vision and a commitment to bring thought-provoking international contemporary art to our geographically isolated border community. Under founding director Kate Bonansinga, the Rubin Center raised the bar in the production and display of contemporary art in El Paso - with a risk-taking, artist-centered roster of exhibitions that focused on site-specific commissions and installations by artists from around the world. Over the past 9 years we have hosted more than 100 artists in Rubin Center exhibitions and programming, producing 85 exhibitions of contemporary art, many with newly commissioned pieces by established artists, and a complementary series of original catalogs documenting the work.
As we celebrated our 10th anniversary in 2015, we reaffirm our commitment of bringing world-class contemporary art to our border community, and at the same time taking some important steps to expand the impact and resonance of that programming on border audiences and to include border voices. Over the past 18 months - we have opened our auditorium to interdisciplinary events that reflect our core mission and expand our core audience. During the past academic year we hosted 58 public programs on contemporary art, contemporary literature in both Spanish and English, border culture and more. We began a series of Fine Art Family Days - multigenerational events that have occurred monthly, combining art, music, performance and dance and bringing hundreds of children and their families to the galleries to experience the pleasures of making and viewing art. We have had two successful seasons of our Art Reach Series, programming conversations featuring local and national practitioners that are using their art in innovative ways, and will be launching a third version of that series this fall. Participatory exhibitions and projects like Border to Bagdad in which artist Szu-Han Ho led a month-long virtual exchange between a group of UTEP students and Iraqi artists, have expanded our conversations and our understanding of art both here and around the world.
We can feel the excitement and promise generated by these first steps as we move towards the celebration of our 10th anniversary. We have begun to unite our efforts under the phrase Where Contemporary Life Meets Contemporary Art, and have started to craft a vision for the next decade of the Rubin Center, where the commitment to excellence serves as a foundation for new conversations, expanded audiences and programming and a vision of the Rubin Center as a hub of contemporary culture, and a catalyst for engaging local artists and audiences with the ideas and practices that shape our world.