On This Day in IUPUI History: February 16, 1983

February 16, 1983. 

On this day, Herron School of Art professor emeritus David K. Rubins was honored at the Indiana Arts Awards ceremonies held in the Indiana State House rotunda. Rubins was honored for his extraordinary contributions to the arts in Indiana and the nation. A reporter for the Sagamore, the student newspaper of IUPUI, was on hand and afterwards scored an interview with Rubins.

The artist outlined his artistic training in the early 1920s, working as an apprentice in the studio of noted American sculptor James Earle Fraser (1876-1953). In 1924 Rubins won the Paris Prize in Sculpture, which afforded study in the French capital in the Ecole des Beaux Arts and the Academie Julian. He then received the Prix de Rome in 1927, where he studied in the American Academy in Rome. There he met his future wife and a young painter from Yale, Donald Mattison. During these episodes, he recalled, "There were no classes and no restrictions. Each artist was provided with a studio and the time and freedom to pursue their own interest." After the completion of the Rome fellowship he returned to Fraser's studio in New York City.

In 1935 Rubins received a call from Mattison, who in 1933 had assumed the directorship of Herron. Mattison asked him to come to Indianapolis to take charge of Herron's sculpture program. Rubins ran the program with distinction, producing many fine sculptors and artists. As well, he developed important teaching tools including a highly admired text on human anatomy for artists.

Herron sculpture class (Rubins second from right), 1952 UA24-006843

As well as teaching artists and sculptors, Rubins produced many notable works which can be found in museums, private collections, and in public spaces. Readers of this blog may be most familiar with his large sculpture, Young Abe Lincoln, which stands on the Indiana state government building complex in downtown Indianapolis. His works have been exhibited in prominent American museums.

Rubins retired from Herron in 1970 and became artist-in-residence at the school. He was named professor emeritus in 1981. He died in 1985.

In the Sagamore interview, Rubins charged students with the responsibility for their educations: "The possibilities for learning today are much greater than when I began teaching at Herron. But the students must be dedicated; they must focus all of their energy towards learning the visual arts. The best facilities and instructors cannot help an individual, if that individual has no desire to succeed."

David K. Rubins, nd UA24-008309

Are you interested in David Rubins's career at Herron? Please visit IUPUI Special Collections and Archives to consult the records. Contact us at speccoll@iupui.edu.


Updated Feb 16, 2019 by Editor Name Missing