A TED Fellow Among Us

Declaration artist Paul Rucker will speak at the 2018 TED Conference, joining a class of 20 young innovators from four continents.

Amazing news!

Cellist and Visual Artist Paul Rucker, an iCubed Visiting Arts Fellow embedded here at the ICA, has been selected as a 2018 TED Fellow. He joins a class of 20 change-makers from around the world who will deliver a talk on the TED stage this April in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Members of the new Fellows class include a journalist who fights fake news in her native Ukraine; a Thai architect designing buildings and spaces with climate change in mind in order to protect vulnerable communities; and a pediatrician who helps families file their taxes in the doctor’s waiting room. A full list of the new TED Fellows and Senior Fellows is available at ted.com/fellows.


ICA Q&A: Egbert Vongmalaithong

Retail Manager Egbert Vongmalaithong sat down to answer a few questions about his work at the ICA.

What’s your role at the ICA?
I’m overseeing the ICA’s retail. Before the opening there’s a lot of research to do, and I’ve modeled the shop to be more like a concept store. Once we are open I’ll be doing the buying, operations, and management of the shop. Currently I’m bringing in writing coming from emerging artists, such as Juliana Huxtable, Wu Tsang and Brontez Purnell, and I’m working with local artists to produce product lines exclusive to the ICA. (more…)

Behind the ICA’s Christmas Parade Float

If you have ever attended the annual Dominion Energy Christmas Parade in downtown Richmond, you have probably seen the handiwork of Craig Hott. He’s been making floats for the event for the past 19 years. “It’s enjoyable stuff, but very challenging and a lot of work,” he says. “It’s not rocket science by any means, but there are certain things you need to do to make sure a float stays together when it’s going down the road.”

Guest Blogger Deb Sokolow: The Search for the Missing Architect

Where, how and why did architect Steven Holl mysteriously vanish in Richmond, Virginia?

As I type this, I stare at the wall above my desk and its accumulation of yellow post-it notes filled with arrows and the names of places. Did someone last see the architect entering the basement of the Egyptian Building on College Street? Could Hollywood Cemetery have something to do with his disappearance? Or would it be better to search the grounds of Virginia Commonwealth University for clues?


Elementary Students Team Up with the ICA for InLight Festival

“Take your eight pieces of paper and use the crayons on your table. Make these pieces of paper beautiful. Add a little pattern, maybe some polka dots, maybe write your name a bazillion times in pretty block letter art work. Be creative.” Those were the first lantern construction directions provided by teacher Stephanie O’Dell to kick off her 4th-grade art class at George W. Carver Elementary School this past Halloween. (more…)

How involved would you like to be?


The Institute for Contemporary Art membership program is unlike any other currently offered in Richmond. Coming later this November, our simple three-tiered program will be easy to join and uses a unique loyalty system to reward member engagement and attendance at lectures, programs, and exhibitions. Check out the benefits below to find the level that’s right for you.


ICA Welcomes Back VCU

School is back in session, and the ICA was there during the first week of classes to welcome new and returning students, pass out some swag, and educate curious-minded individuals on all things ICA.

“We have new and returning students coming back to campus, and we want remind them we’re here,” said Erin Hanas, Associate Curator of Academic Programs. “We’re tabling welcome week to make sure they know there are ways they can get involved with ICA even before we open.”

ICA Q&As: Meredith Carrington

Senior Graphic Designer Meredith Carrington sat down to answer a few questions about her work at the ICA.

What’s your role at the ICA?
I’m the gatekeeper of the visual brand for the ICA. There’s an amazing visual identity that was created by a number of folks, including the VCUarts staff and John Paolini, a VCUarts alum with Sullivan & Company. They created this really dynamic visual identity that I’m now trying to live into and decide how we’ll use. A lot of my responsibility is in print projects, but I also provide advice on signage, digital applications, and things like that. When we get into our physical space, I’ll also be helping curatorial with exhibition design and graphics. In general, I attend to all of the ICA’s visual needs.

Digital Swag: Summer in the City

Celebrate summer in Richmond with our ICA-branded digital swag!

Update your desktop and mobile devices with wallpapers featuring the ICA’s ignition color palette and the Richmond skyline—along with some notable VCU landmarks. And yes, that’s the Markel Center, three buildings from the left.

Instructions: Right click / Ctrl + click and select “Save Image As…” to download the image file.

Smart Phone v. 1 (640w x 960h) >>
Smart Phone v. 2 (720w x 1280h) >>
Tablet / E-Readers >>
Desktop  >>

Image: ICA at VCU branded digital swag, July 2017.  © ICA at VCU

Pam and Bill Royall Receive VCU’s 2017 Edward A. Wayne Medal

The Edward A. Wayne Medal is one of the highest honors awarded by VCU, and is given in recognition of extraordinary generosity and service to the university and the community. And in May of 2017, during commencement, the medal was presented to Institute for Contemporary Art supporters Pam and Bill Royall.

In her speech recognizing the recipients, Gail Hackett, Ph.D., VCU’s Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, said of the Royalls, “Your remarkable generosity and volunteer leadership will continue to enrich the lives of our students, patients, faculty, and researchers and will positively shape Richmond business, art, and culture for years to come. In particular, your service as campaign co-chairs for the Institute for Contemporary Art has set a clear example and embodies a sense of vision and leadership worth emulating.” (more…)

Guest Blogger Deb Sokolow: Research for an Idiosyncratic Visitor’s Guide

“In all fictions, each time a man meets diverse alternatives, he chooses one and eliminates the others; in the work of the virtually impossible-to-disentangle Ts’ui Pen, the character chooses—simultaneously— all of them. He creates, thereby, ‘several futures,’ several times, which themselves proliferate and fork.”
The Garden of Forking Paths, Jorge Luis Borges

When the Institute for Contemporary Art [ICA] invited me to create an idiosyncratic visitor’s guide to the institute, I was delighted to discover Steven Holl’s design for the building was inspired by a short detective story from writer Jorge Luis Borges. As an artist, lover of detective stories and avid reader of experimental fiction, I could not have been more jazzed. (more…)

Green Guide to the Building (Part 3)

Upon completion of construction in 2017, the ICA will submit for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), a non-profit organization committed to sustainable practices in building and construction.

State buildings in Virginia are required to consider sustainability and must pass one of the following three standards: LEED Certification at the silver level; Green Globes Ratings Systems two-globe level; or adhere to the International Green Construction Code. The ICA anticipates earning a LEED gold certification, one level beyond what is required.

Rebecca Aarons-Sydnor is the ICA’s sustainability representative from the Richmond firm, Sustainable Design Consulting (SDC). (more…)

Guest Blogger Randi Korn: Intentional Planning at the ICA

Whenever I receive an invitation to work with an arts organization in my home state (I live and work in Alexandria), it is nearly impossible to turn down. I am so excited about having a new contemporary arts organization close by, that when longtime colleague Johanna Plummer, Curator of Education and Engagement, called to gauge my interest in helping her and Director Lisa Freiman develop a plan for the ICA, I was delighted. Johanna and I have worked together before, so she knows that I use Intentional Planning strategies to facilitate inclusive workshops to co-create an Impact Framework. I am grateful to the ICA’s staff for this amazing opportunity. This summer, the ICA team of talented museum professionals, as well as advisory members, university professors and administrators, and members of the Richmond arts community worked together to begin the process.

Intentional Planning is a contemporary approach to traditional strategic planning. Strategic planning focuses on an organization’s mission statement, which usually includes verbs such as “educate,” “inspire,” and sets out to create actions that the organization will take. Taking this a step further, Intentional Planning focuses on impact—the result of the organization on its audiences. (more…)

Impact Planning: Letter from Lisa Freiman and Johanna Plummer

Dear ICA Supporters and Friends,

After many months of intensive conversations, we are thrilled to share our new mission and impact statements with you:

MISSION: (what the ICA will do)
The Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA) at Virginia Commonwealth University presents the art of our time and provides an open forum for dialogue and collaboration across the region and throughout the world. 

IMPACT: (the result of the ICA on audiences)
Participants respect the ICA as a public resource and value the transformative power of art and artists.

The Impact Planning Framework is intended as a living document. It includes our passions, distinct qualities, target audiences, and outcomes for those audiences, and it is aligned with VCU’s Quest for Distinction strategic plan goals. These two pages are the result of many hours of workshopping, listening, wordsmithing, and editing. Our work continues as we develop indicators and targets for each outcome and then make it all real this fall. (more…)


Inaugural Exhibition, Declaration, Will Examine Art’s Crucial Role in the World Today and Will Premiere Many New Commissions and Works

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.


Behind the Scenes: Building Interdisciplinary Relationships

Erin Hanas, associate curator of academic programs, shares her goals for coordinating faculty and student engagement.

1. What is a typical day for you and/or your team?  

Planning meetings and conversations — often related to programming ideas we are developing — but every day brings something new and different and creatively challenging. This ranges from navigating VCU administration to talking with colleagues at other institutions about their programming and campus outreach efforts. I am constantly considering what types of academic programs and initiatives would best serve our VCU audiences.

2. What projects are you focusing on leading up to the ICA’s opening?

Right now, I am focused on campus outreach and building relationships with members of the VCU community. (more…)

March on Monument 2017

Marching on Monument

Today we join Richmond’s March on Monument, and we stand, in solidarity with those who believe in the power of equality and justice. As we march past monuments to Confederate soldiers, I am reminded that Richmond is also a place where creative expression and alternative voices reveal a history of pride in our differences and a desire to continually reform.

In anticipation of the presidential inauguration and the opening of VCU’s Institute for Contemporary Art, we ask ourselves how the ICA can best serve our community both locally and globally in a time of civic unrest. In doing so, the ICA stands committed to being a space that promotes social equity, racial justice, and open dialogue through the arts. We stand together with the cultural institutions, artists, curators and critics around the world that share this commitment.

Today we proclaim our rights to preserve the very multicolored fabrics that make us a nation. In these charged times, we march together to produce more images of solidarity and hope for future generations to come. We march today, will join the Women’s March on January 21 in Washington D.C., and every day until we reach a tomorrow where we truly have a more perfect union. #RVA #MarchonMonument #ICA2017 #ICAVCU #Bootsontheground

— Lisa Freiman, Director

Winter 2017 Audience Survey

Please complete the following survey so that we may better understand our audience’s preferences for receiving information in the digital sphere.

All responses are strictly confidential and will only be used to inform the communications strategy for the Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA) at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). Thank you for your support.

Launch Survey >>