Marlene was born in 1961 in Alice Springs and grew up at Amoonguna community, east of Alice Springs where she went to school. Marlene is the daughter of Wenton Rubuntja the well-known painter and activist. It was her father who fought for the rights of people to settle Town Camps in Alice Springs. In the 1970’s her family, the Rubuntjas, along with the Ebatarinjas and the Lynches were the original families to settle Yarrenyty Arltere Town Camp. Marlene has been at Larapinta ever since and she is proud to call this place home. She is sister to the important watercolour artist Mervyn Rubuntja. Marlene learnt to sew at Yirara College in Alice Springs, however she only began making soft sculptures at Yarrenyty Arltere in 2009. She says she draws inspiration for her soft sculptures and her works on paper from what she sees around her in her daily life at Yarrenyty Arltere Town Camp. She also draws inspiration from her father’s country and from her husband’s country at Wave Hill.
Marlene is interested in telling proudly the stories of her people - her art is helping her to do this. Marlene is a proud spokeswoman for the Art Centre and is happy to tell people how important it is in her life in helping her stay strong and healthy. Marlene has worked on all the films made through the Yarrenyty Arltere Art Centre, either as a writer, artist, cultural advisor and or on screen. In 2016 and 2019 Marlene officially opened the Desert Mob Exhibition in Alice Springs and in 2017 she was one of three judges for the Portrait of a Senior Territorian Art Award. In 2016 Marlene was the overall winner for the inaugural Vincent Lingiari Art Award Alice Springs with her self-portrait titled, My Future is in my Hands.
Marlene's work is in various public and private collection such as the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the University of Newcastle Collection, the Art Gallery of South Australia, the Araluen Arts Centre, the National Gallery of Victoria, Maitland Regional Gallery and the Macquarie Group Collection.