BC sculptor leaves impactful legacy

The 10 Mile Student Assistance Fund
Jeffrey Rubinoff with one of his pieces at the Jeffrey Rubinoff Sculpture Park on Hornby Island

In 2016, the Department of Art History & Visual Studies became home to the largest donor-funded endowed award on campus, thanks to a major gift from BC sculptor Jeffrey Rubinoff and the Jeffrey Rubinoff Foundation.

In 2023, the Rubinoff Foundation expanded its partnership with the Faculty of Fine Arts with the $230,000 Jeffrey Rubinoff Nexus for Art as a Source of Knowledge fund.

Nexus For Art funding

The new Source of Knowledge fund supports the apointment of the Rubinoff Legacy Professor in Art as a Source of Knowledge, as well as $100,000 in annual Fine Arts graduate student scholarships plus funding for new initiatives between UVic and the JRSP—including a professorship, project coordinator position and a larger field-school program.

Read more about Allan Antliff being announced as the Rubinoff Legacy Professor.

The original endowment

The original Rubinoff Endowment established a recurring four-year PhD fellowship in the area of modern and contemporary art history, allowing doctoral students exceptional opportunities to study the complexities and richness of modern and contemporary art history.

"Jeffrey Rubinoff's generous gift allows us to envision a brighter future for our vibrant and diverse graduate students, " said department chair Dr. Erin Campbell at the time. This legacy will deepen the impact of art history both at home and around the world.”

Read more about Rubinoff and this remarkable award.

Art as a source of knowledge

“My own sculptural work is completely dedicated to art history,” said the late Rubinoff. “Original ideas grow out of original work, which led me to see art as a source of knowledge. Since these insights form the context within which the work becomes meaningful, it is imperative that the general public, artists, and art educators understand them if the work is to be fully appreciated.”

The original endowment also provided travel and costs for the Fellowship scholar and a cohort of Fine Arts students to attend the annual Company of Ideas forum, established by Rubinoff in 2008 to engage scholarly collaborators from around the world with the advancement of education in the arts. 

Unparalleled opportunities

The first recipient of the Endowment was AHVS doctoral candidate Munazzah Akhtar, who attended 2016’s Company of Ideas. “Being a student of Islamic art history, it was a novel experience for me to get acquainted with art beyond my area of specialization,” said Akhtar. “The forum offered an unparalleled opportunity for the students to learn from and engage with artists, writers, curators and academics from distinguished universities.”

In 2020, AHVS doctoral candidate Anna O’Meara was announced as another PhD student to receive the Rubinoff Fellowship. By the end of her fellowship, O’Meara will have attended multiple Company of Ideas forums, speaking to various themes originating from Rubinoff’s writings.

“The Rubinoff Fellowship has changed my entire life,” said O’Meara in 2022. "The Fellowship gave me the possibility to move to Canada and to study at UVic. In the beginning of my studies, I saw being here as so much of a privilege that I didn't entirely know how to come to terms with the experience. Now, I'm perceiving this privilege as a responsibility: a responsibility to write art history with honesty and relevance.”

O’Meara feels that Rubinoff's work helped her better understand Victoria. “Being from New York City and Indiana, I didn't have the same connection to the landscape . . . . Now, when I imagine Victoria in my mind, I imagine his art embedded into the vista. There's something about his art that feels eternal.”