Broke Limb

an installation series by
MARLEENE RUBENSTEIN | Occupational Therapist + Artist

These are single units from a series that is intended as an installation.

Broken limbs, after various windstorms, were gathered and used as molds to create sculptures made of nothing but scotch tape.

A total of 248 bones are described in Judaism as comprising the human body.

My intent is to show the frailty of the human shell, so I chose to use a material that is both commonplace and weak, un-monumental in its inherent existence, and comparable to our own bodies.

The task of placing innumerable strips of tape to create a three dimensional forms has a mirror in my previous life as an occupational therapist, working in rehabilitation units to repair bodies that were “broken” by trauma of various kinds. 




Occupational Therapist + Artist

Sipping my morning coffee, I pet the cat purring on my lap, and look around my kitchen filled with California light, hanging pots, and ceramic jars, filled with wooden spoons. I am grateful for the journey and for the years that have taken me to this place in my life.

My childhood was spent in a rural farming area outside of NYC, where I spent all my free time reading books and making projects. I actually never graduated high school, and catapulted myself into New York City when I was 16, entering NYU during the tumultuous 70’s. I promptly acquired an arrest record for civil rights, as well as a BS in occupational therapy, and later an MPA in public health as well as a wonderfully supportive husband, who is a clinical psychologist. Together we managed to produce 5 children—while taking turns attending graduate school for our professions.

I remember those child rearing years as being sleep deprived and frantically busy with my job, my home, and the kids. There just wasn’t enough time in the day! My husband and I also squeezed in several years as foster parents for six at-risk teenaged girls, and later we cared for aging and physically challenged parents in our home. My need to create during those years found expression in cooking and knitting at night, as there was no time or space to draw or paint.

In my early 40’s I decided to seriously pursue my dream to study art and entered the MFA program at California State University Long Beach, while continuing to work and to deal with my own teenagers. I won both the research writing award in the humanities, and the an award for my thesis show—and perhaps more importantly, taught my children that with determination, dreams can be actualized. Today, I still work part time as an occupational therapist, work in my studio on a daily basis—and keep the cookie jar filled for our 18 grandchildren!

These elements of nurturing and healing, of family and memory, of dealing with the aged and the traumatized, all find expression in my art making, as does a deliberate, labor-intensive process, which recreates the repetitive tasks of motherhood.

Enjoy more of Marleene’s work at