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April 23, 2018

Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University Opens

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA—The Institute of Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University opened to the public Saturday, April 21 with “Declaration,” an exhibition responding to present social and political realities. The exhibition assembles the work of thirty-three international and Richmond-based artists, including Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts professors Sonya Clark, Stephen Vitello, and Hope Ginsburg, and will be accompanied by a series of public programs and lectures.

“Why a declaration? Because declarations are strong statements that mark beginnings, clarify intentions, and propose a social contract,” Smith said. “This is true whether we think about something as personal as a declaration of love between two people, or as grandly public as the Declaration of Independence. Simultaneously grounded in our rich local context and engaged with global concerns, ‘Declaration’ affirms the ICA’s commitment to researching, supporting, and sharing projects that strengthen the common good.”

More than one-third of the works included in “Declaration” debut in the ICA’s inaugural exhibition, which is curated by ICA chief curator Stephanie Smith, Lisa Freiman, and Amber Esseiva, with Johanna Plummer and Lauren Ross, and will remain on view through September 9, 2018. A non-collecting institution, a full program of exhibitions at the ICA will be announced for fall 2018. At VCU, the ICA joins the Arts Research Institute and the Center for the Creative Economy for the study of contemporary art.

The Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University is designed by Steven Holl Architects as a connection between the city of Richmond and the university’s campus. “We designed the ICA to be a flexible, forward-looking instrument that will both illuminate and serve as a catalyst for the transformative possibilities of contemporary art,” Holl said. “Like many contemporary artists working today, the ICA’s design does not draw distinctions between the visual and performing arts. The fluidity of the design allows for experimentation and will encourage new ways to display and present art that will capitalize on the ingenuity and creativity apparent throughout the VCU campus.

The 40,890-square-foot building can accommodate four separate simultaneous exhibitions and features a 240-seat auditorium, café, and outdoor sculpture garden. Construction began in 2014, and the ICA is expected to meet LEED Gold Certification environmental standards.

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