February 13, 2014

In a culture that tends to fixate on fame and fortune, it is easy to overlook the real success achieved by everyday people living their dream. UCF alum Elana Eda Rubinfeld is one of those people.

After graduating from UCF’s School of Visual Arts & Design, Elana moved to New York and eventually opened her own art consultation business, Elana Eda Consulting. With over ten years of experience in the art world, Rubinfeld consults on contemporary art, curating and photography, while, according to her website, “connecting curious people with innovative art since 2003… placing works with some of the world’s top institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, and corporate clients such as Microsoft, Waggener Edstrom, and Patagonia.”

Professor Carla Poindexter said about her long friendship with Elana Rubinfeld, “Elana immediately stood out as an unusually gifted individual among the art students I worked with when I first came to UCF to teach painting in the Fall of 2000. She impressed me with her creativity, intelligence, her delightful sense of humor and her generous personality. No student before or since has managed to talk the Orlando Museum of Art into a 24-hour show for UCF art students. She pulled it off with amazing skill and success. But that was just one of many wonderful hijinks. One year, she persuaded me to let her be my “assistant” in a mixed media class I taught in Scotland to adults. I can still remember her running all over Edinburgh returning with armfuls of strange and odd Fringe Festival publicity materials for the art projects.

“As I came to know her more, I was not only her professor but her mentor and later her friend. Although Elana is a very talented painter, after graduating from UCF, she chose to move to New York City to become involved in the visual arts on many other levels. She immersed herself fully in the contemporary art world, bringing collectors and artists together as a curator, a gallery co-director, and now as a successful art advisor … Elana makes it all look effortless. However, I know she works very hard for her many successes.”

In a recent interview conducted by UCF Art Gallery Director Yulia Tikhonova, we get an inside look at some of Rubinfeld’s motivations and surprises while at UCF, and who she credits with providing her a “top-notch art education” that helped to launch her career.

Why did you choose UCF?
The only school I applied to was UCF. I wasn’t a very strategic thinker at the age of 17. My inner dialogue was probably like "Karen (my BFF) is going there, and it’s only a 2 1/2 hour drive from Sarasota (where I grew up). Let’s do this!".

What did you like most about it?
I loved the freedom. I had some ambitious ideas, and the professors and students were always supportive. By the time I graduated, I had curated an exhibition at the Orlando Museum of Art and collaborated with computer programmers at the Institute for Simulation and Training on technology and art projects.

Most colleges have a specific personality that goes beyond its academic offerings. How would you describe UCF’s personality at that time?
UCF was kinda sweet. Swing dancing and being straight-edge were cool at the time, and our biggest global concern was Y2K. I mean, I don’t want to date myself here, but students didn’t have personal computers. We went to the computer labs in the student union to write papers and send e-mails.

What would you have changed while you were at UCF, if you could have power to change things? What would you change now?
More parking.

What surprises did you experience?
That I got a top-notch art education at UCF. The professors in the art department were working artists as much as teachers. They taught us everything from the basics of design and drawing to contemporary art theory and practice. I learned enough to be able to move to New York and not feel totally lost in the scene here.

What motivations did UCF empower you with?
I was the only student in a graduating class of, like, 4 million that walked across the stage at graduation with a degree in Liberal Studies. I learned that it’s not about what you study, but what you do with it.

How did your time at UCF shape your decisions and choices in your life and your career?
It became clear early on that I thrived in a community that valued cultural currency. I had that in school, and I found it in New York.

For more information please visit: http://www.elanaeda.com/

Photo Credit: Pete Thompson