Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) will unveil the Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA), a new, non-collecting contemporary art institution designed by Steven Holl Architects in partnership with BCWH Architects in Spring 2018. The ICA’s inaugural exhibition, Declaration will explore contemporary art’s power to catalyze change, and will feature painting, sculpture, multimedia works, site-specific installations, and time-based performances by emerging and established artists. Featuring new work and commissions by artists from Richmond and around the globe, “Declaration” will examine themes of protest, social justice, connection, and creative community.

“I am eager to open the ICA to our neighbors in Richmond, the VCU community, and the world as a welcoming forum for collaboration and dialogue. Our diverse program will introduce visitors to artists from around the world, offering a variety of perspectives to inspire new ways of thinking, create meaningful connections, and explore the central issues of our times,” said ICA Director, Lisa Freiman.

Declaration will assert contemporary art’s vital role in society through works that raise urgent questions about the state of our world. The exhibition will explore questions of speech and silence, conflict and connection, the interrelation between the many and the one, and between institutions and the communities they serve. It will demonstrate how artists participate in civic conversations, activate diverse creative communities, and catalyze reflection and renewal.

“Our inaugural exhibition declares the ICA’s intention to provide a forum for dialogue and exploration that is both rigorous and generous. This exhibition and our future programs will be simultaneously grounded in a rich local context and engaged with global concerns,” said ICA Chief Curator Stephanie Smith. “Artists respond to the pressing issues of our times—sometimes directly, sometimes obliquely. However they choose to speak, their work opens alternate pathways. Each choice we make has consequences. Each declaration of independence or connection, compliance or resistance, leads toward different futures. The works in Declaration will invite reflection, debate, action, and collaboration, making space for individual contemplation while also unleashing the power of multiple voices.”

Artists featured in “Declaration” include Nidaa Badwan, Martín Bonadeo, Peter Burr and Porpentine Charity Heartscape, Tania Bruguera, Chim Pom, Andrea Donnelly, Edie Fake, Hope Ginsburg, GWAR, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Kate Just, Titus Kaphar, Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr., Autumn Knight, Lily Lamberta and All The Saints Theater Company, Cannupa Hanska Luger, Noor Nuyten, Geof Oppenheimer, Cheryl Pope, Paul Rucker, Curtis Talwst Santiago, Marinella Senatore, Jon-Phillip Sheridan, Deb Sokolow, Tavares Strachan, Betty Tompkins, Stephen Vitiello, and Levester Williams, among others.

Declaration is co-curated by Stephanie Smith and Lisa Freiman, with Amber Esseiva, Johanna Plummer, and Lauren Ross.

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