August 17, 2020

Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA)

Institute of Contemporary Art at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Fine Arts Center, University of Tennessee Chattanooga. Photo © University of Tennessee Chattanooga.

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC) announces plans to launch the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) at UTC—the first ICA in the state will open its doors in spring 2021. The ICA at UTC will be free and open to the public.

Following a multi-year renovation at the UTC Fine Arts Center, the university’s contemporary art gallery and exhibition program—the Cress Gallery of Art—will be rebranded with an updated, more public-facing mission and expanded visual identity as the ICA at UTC. Officially founded in 2000, the Cress Gallery of Art bears the name of artist and UTC Guerry Professor of Art Emeritus George Ayers Cress (American, 1921–2008). The Cress gained national reputation from its Diane Marek Visiting Artist Series, which operated from 2006-2018 and was a cherished program and tradition at UTC. General operating support for the ICA is provided by UTC.

Rachel Reese, appointed as Director and Curator of Cress Gallery of Art in January 2020, will transition into the role of Director and Curator of the ICA at UTC and lead its future visioning and growth. “The gallery provides a cultural link between the university and the community and we are excited to re-open after this hiatus under Rachel Reese’s direction,” said Pamela Riggs-Gelasco, UTC College of Arts and Sciences dean. Read more about Reese’s professional history and appointment here.

Reese added that “as an ICA, we will present challenging, curious, and adventurous encounters with contemporary art and artists both on campus and city-wide, with a specific responsibility towards reflecting the values and issues pertinent to our region today. It is an opportune time to rethink and reaffirm the socially-responsive connections that contemporary art and artists build not only within our campus community, but with greater Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Southeastern publics. Driven by values of openness, inclusivity, and honesty, we will always be free and open to the public and believe that art celebrates our human experience in its unique place and time.”

“At the 40-year mark of the Fine Arts Center, and the 20-year mark of the Cress Gallery, the timing is opportune to revision its future as an ICA—one that will continue to tell our institutional story while simultaneously signaling a new path forward,” said Joe Wilferth, interim chair of the Department of Art and associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

The Cress Gallery has gone through significant change, evolution, and growth and is looking to move into a new era. The ICA at UTC will be a major campus asset that mirrors the growth, evolution, and values of the University more broadly including embracing diversity and inclusion; creating a culture of creativity, discovery and inquiry; and prioritizing innovation and scholarship.”

The ICA will provide increased opportunities for professional development pipelines and scholarship for the UTC Department of Art. Aligned with the forthcoming launch will be an updated visual identity that includes a new logo and website. The ICA will seek a bold, adventurous, curious visual identity that reflects contemporary art practice today, while simultaneously prioritizing accessibility, approachability and friendliness.

UTC is a comprehensive, community-engaged campus of the UT System and an NASAD-accredited institution. UTC is an EEO/AA/Titles VI and IX Section 504/ADA/ADEA institution.

For more information, contact Rachel Reese, Director and Curator: rachel-reese [​at​]

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