Aerial view of VIU campus

Denise MacNeill Memorial Endowment

Denise MacNeill was born in Oakville, Ontario and moved to Vancouver Island in 1991. An artist all her life, Denise believed that her artistic abilities were a gift allowing her to paint the world around her. She found Vancouver Island and Nanaimo to be great sources of inspiration for her.

A skilled, self-taught artist in a number of media including acrylics and oils, weaving, crafts, jewelry making, mosaic tile work and more, Denise also had a background in commercial design and music.  During her life she partnered with two art galleries in Nanaimo, “The Public Hanging” and “The Intersection Gallery,” which she shared with her artist father for five years. Denise has won numerous awards for her work, which are  included in many private and corporate collections in addition to displays in Vancouver Island businesses, including private clinics and coffee shops.

Outside of her art, Denise lead a rich life focused on community. As a Community Support Worker and Mental Health Worker for 23 years, she helped developmentally challenged adults find creative outlets for their artistic endeavours. “Art is for everyone and has an empowering effect on building any individuals dignity and confidence,” Denise believed.

Before Denise passed in 2021, she worked with VIU to establish the framework for a legacy gift that would support Visual Arts students. As a result of her generosity, she was able to create the Denise MacNeill Memorial Endowment which encourage students to continue to pursue their passions through an annual $1,000 Bursary for a Visual Art student in either the Visual Arts Diploma or Bachelor of Arts programs. Denise’s gift also supported equipment and capital improvements for VIU’s Visual Arts program.

Denise's father John MacNeill was also an artist, and very influential on her career. Please take a moment to learn about John here: John MacNeill