BC sculptor celebrates scholarship with new endowment

Fine Arts

- John Threlfall

Jeffrey Rubinoff with his sculpture "Series 9-6". Credit: Michelle Tarnopolsky

Sculptor’s endowment offers a bright future for the study of modern and contemporary art

The department of art history & visual studies (AHVS) is now 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.

The Jeffrey Rubinoff Scholar in Art as a Source of Knowledge Endowment establishes 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.

This contribution is ideally timed to help the department celebrate 50 years of teaching, research and scholarship — ideas all strongly linked to the educational mission of the Jeffrey Rubinoff Foundation.

"Jeffrey Rubinoff's generous gift allows us to envision a brighter future for our vibrant and diverse graduate students, " says department chair Dr. Erin Campbell. “In our 50th anniversary year, as we look forward to the next 50 years and beyond, this legacy will deepen the impact of art history both at home and around the world.”

Studying world art creates opportunities for intercultural understanding, as people instantly connect with the visual. A greater awareness of the impact of modern and contemporary art can add to the richness of our lives, engage us with the past and present, and inform how we think about our world.

“UVic is internationally recognized as a leader in creative innovation and arts knowledge, and Jeffrey Rubinoff has identified our extraordinary academic environment as being ideally suited to the goals of the Rubinoff Endowment — to expose students to the leading edge of art history,” says UVic President Jamie Cassels.

“My own sculptural work is completely dedicated to art history,” says 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 author of Rubinoff on Art and the subject of scholarly study himself in the book The Art of Jeffrey Rubinoff, Rubinoff’s commitment to scholarship includes the establishment in 2014 of a fellowship at Cambridge University in England. The UVic endowment is only the second such donation from the Jeffrey Rubinoff Foundation.

“Together, the Endowment at UVic and the Fellowship at Cambridge are the institutional mainstays of the unfolding, permanent educational program at the Jeffrey Rubinoff Sculpture Park, which will continue to explore the future of art as a source of knowledge,” adds Rubinoff.

The new UVic endowment will also provide travel and costs for the scholar and two 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.

Current AHVS doctoral candidate Munazzah Akhtar was one of a select group of renowned and early career scholars who attended the Company of Ideas in May 2016. “Being a student of Islamic art history, it was a novel experience for me to get acquainted with art beyond my area of specialization,” says Akhtar. “The forum offered an unparalleled opportunity for the students to learn from and engage with artists, writers, curators and academics from distinguished universities.”

After receiving his MFA in the USA in 1969, Rubinoff returned to Ontario to pursue his artistic career before moving to a 200-acre farm on Hornby Island in the early 1970s. Living and working on the northern Gulf Island for nearly five decades, he has built the Jeffrey Rubinoff Sculpture Park. This remarkable site is home to over 100 of his steel sculptures, which he has created unassisted using his one-man steel foundry, as well as the Company of Ideas forum.

“Jeffrey’s sculptural work is monumental in its scope and his legacy will now create a monument to future scholarship," says UVic Dean of Fine Arts Susan Lewis. "This extraordinary contribution underscores the crucial cultural work done in the Faculty of Fine Arts and reaffirms once again that UVic is a key player in creative innovation and the exchange of ideas about social change."


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Keywords: arts, philanthropy, art history and visual studies

People: Jeffrey Rubinoff, Susan Lewis

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