Wrapping the ICA’s Headquarters

Inspired by a commitment to creativity, our staff decided earlier this year that the façade of the ICA’s temporary headquarters at 818 West Broad Street should undergo a bold, vivid makeover. Based on the ICA’s brand identity, a once stark white brick storefront now features a bright color palette of red, pink, and purple. Using a 3M brick adhesive vinyl, the front exterior was wrapped from top to bottom with matching laminate for doors and windows. Mounted high above, the ICA’s logo is presented in custom-fabricated white channel letters. Deceptively simple during the day, the logo is illuminated in the evenings for an equally powerful effect. (more…)

A Forum of Ideas — A Collaborative Program with VCUarts Interior Design

This past spring, 38 undergraduate and 8 graduate VCU interior design students were given the opportunity to take their studies beyond the studio and into the real world. In a joint collaboration between ICA staff, School of the Arts Interior Design (IDES) faculty, and BCWH Architecture colleagues, students were asked to examine design challenges presented by the ICA’s forum, a space defined by a 36-foot ceiling, a glass facade, a curving wall, and a sweeping grand staircase.  (more…)

Digital Wallpapers — Design Studies for the ICA

In light of our recent collaboration with VCUarts Interior Design and BCWH Architects, we’re sharing select works by participating VCUarts interior design students as digital wallpapers for your desktop and mobile devices.

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

Desktop (horizontal):
An Liu, Forum Interior, digital sketch >>
Lucy Dabney, Forum Interior, mixed media sketch >>
Heather Overby, Exterior (Pine Street View), watercolor sketch >>

Mobile (vertical):
An Liu, Forum Interior, digital sketch >>
An Liu, Floorplan Visualization, watercolor sketch >>
Heather Overby, Exterior (Pine Street View), watercolor sketch >>


Exhibition: A Forum of Ideas (Now through November 20, 2016)
Video: A Forum of Ideas

Images: An Liu, Forum Interior (digital sketch), 2016 / Lucy Dabney, Forum Interior (mixed media sketch), 2016 / Heather Overby, Pine Street Exterior View (watercolor sketch), 2016

The ICA Auditorium

As construction crews removed the scaffolding and support systems around the exterior of the Markel Center last summer, the sloping plane that supports the auditorium seating was revealed. In keeping with the ICA’s mission to be ever-changing, Steven Holl Architects designed the auditorium to be a flexible and dynamic space that can accommodate the broadest possible range of contemporary performance art and programming needs. (more…)

Behind the Scenes: Building a Donor Base for a New Institution

Carol Anne Baker LaJoie, director of development, shares the challenges and rewards of fundraising — from the potential to the planning — for a new art institution.

  1. What is your favorite aspect of fundraising for the ICA?

Being with donors, hands down. I have a deep belief in the power of philanthropy because I’ve seen it in action. Spending time learning about what interests and motivates the generosity of our donors is incredibly rewarding. Our donors are amazing, they’re wonderful to talk with and listen to, and I never stop learning from them. It’s so much fun to share with them what we have in store at the ICA. When their passions align with our mission, it’s magical.  (more…)

Market Research: Profiling the ICA’s Audience

Over the summer, we teamed up with two VCU graduates to research the ICA’s followers to develop audience profiles and understand their motivations. Collaboratively managed by Joseph Baumgardner (BS Marketing ’16) and Christian Marchant (BS Creative Advertising ’15), the project began with a survey developed to identify those most likely to support and engage with the ICA.  The survey was distributed via social media and e-mail to individuals who follow the ICA’s Facebook page and have subscribed to our e-newsletter. Questions ranged from general demographics to the number of museum visits per year and rankings for a list of leisure activities.

The results identified 4 key audiences: the VCU artistic family, campus connoisseurs, Richmond art and cultural supporters, and Richmond art connoisseurs.  While all of them share a common love of art, fun, and challenging ideas, the groups differ in their level of cultural engagement and social activity.  Following are descriptions of each profile:


October 2016 Construction Update

Fall is finally here and with it, the Markel Center enters an exciting new phase of construction.

Over the past few weeks, the building was dramatically transformed with the removal of scaffolding and reveal of the torqued exterior walls above the auditorium. Concrete work for the lower level, first-floor gallery, cafe, and shop have all been completed; remaining are the third-floor gallery and upper canopy of the forum. Also completed, placement of the steel beams for these remaining structures. Perhaps the most striking construction component to date, the steel super-structure revealed a hint of the Markel Center’s future visual impact at the intersection of Broad and Belvidere.


Q&A with Rahim Hassan: Teen Programming at the ICA

Last summer, the ICA and VCUarts Department of Sculpture + Extended Media jointly hosted four high school interns from area schools participating in the Cochrane Summer Economic Institute. The interns were tasked with conducting research on local arts programming for teens and providing recommendations for the creation of teen programs at both the ICA and Sculpture + Extended Media.

Rahim Hassan, one of the four interns and a Clover Hill High School senior, discusses his experience and takeaways from participating in this unique summer internship experience.

Listen as Rahim reflects on what the ICA could offer teens and read more of his Q&A with education assistant Alexander Crawford.

AC: What opportunities do you think the ICA can offer teens?

RH: The ICA’s teen programs will be more than a safe space for teens to meet and talk about important topics. Through offerings like a teen council and other leadership opportunities, teens can learn skills like public speaking, organization, teamwork and problem-solving. At the end of the summer internship my fellow interns and I suggested that a teen council be formed, one that would be responsible for creating innovative programs for fellow teens. This council would be an important voice in the institution that would make sure that programs for teens are developed by teens.

AC: What was the most rewarding aspect of your internship?

RH: Even though my colleagues and I were just teenagers in our first internships, it was really rewarding to see that our findings were taken seriously and actually provided important information to the ICA and Richmond arts community. When we gave our final presentation, people in attendance were interested in our findings and had questions about our research and our opinions. It really gave meaning to why we were researching teen programs. The work we did is giving back to something that is going to be great for the Richmond community. (more…)

Donor Q&A: Carole Harrell

Carole Harrell, Richmond-based artist and recent graduate of VCUarts Graphic Design department, discusses her expectations and hopes for the ICA.

  1. What does the ICA mean to you and why do you support it?

Having lived in Richmond for nearly four years while earning my BFA in graphic design, I witnessed enormous growth and expansion in the urban campus that was my home. Each day I saw new buildings rise up on and around Broad Street. and as I was finishing my studies in 2014, the ICA began to emerge from a parking lot at the corner of Belvidere and Broad. It occurred to me that this incredibly beautiful architecture would position itself as the beacon that would guide me back and that would also welcome all who followed me. (more…)

Modeling the ICA’s Markel Center

Last spring the ICA commissioned An Liu, a master’s student in the School of the Arts Department of Interior Design, to build an architectural model of the Markel Center. Liu is an expert model builder. He estimates having constructed more than 50 architectural models since he was a bachelor’s student in exhibition design at Nanjing Normal University, School of Fine Arts in China.

Liu met with Michael Lease, the ICA’s Interim Director of Facilities, Installation and Exhibition Design to discuss the Institute’s needs for this particular model. Unlike most architectural models which show granular detail and are designed to showcase what a building will look like when complete, this is a working model to be used for exhibition programming and planning. An important planning tool for the curatorial department, the model needs to be durable, mobile, built to scale, and easy to disassemble and reassemble.


Design in Real Time

In a joint collaboration between ICA staff, School of the Arts Interior Design faculty, and BCWH Architecture colleagues (the ICA’s architect of record), interior design students were asked to examine design challenges presented by the ICA’s forum, a space defined by a 36-foot ceiling, a curving wall, and a sweeping grand staircase.

A focal point of Director Lisa Freiman’s tenure, such collaborative projects are an ICA priority and a direct connection to VCU’s commitment to provide students with high-quality, real-world learning experiences. Simultaneously, the faculty were pleased to elevate the studio experience by providing students with an existing client and an opportunity to see a process take shape and to witness a structure take form.

Highlights from the project — featuring drawings and watercolors by the students, video interviews, and more — are on view at VCU’s Cabell Library from Sept. 26 to Nov. 20. Watch the video here.

Image: Heather Overby, Illustration of the forum (detail), Spring 2016. ©ICA at VCU and H. Overby

A Green Guide to the Building (Part 2)

VCU and the ICA are committed to building a greener and more sustainable campus. We spoke with the ICA’s Interim Director of Facilities, Installation, and Exhibition Design Michael Lease to explore the positive environmental impact of key construction materials and the site’s landscape.

One of the most visible green elements will be the zinc panels that cover the exterior of the Institute for Contemporary Art’s building, at the Markel Center. There are several reasons why using zinc is environmentally friendly. First, it’s 100% recyclable; it can be used again and again. Second, it resists corrosion. Third, it is a natural fungistat, reducing the risk of mold, mildew, and fungus, and the need for fungicides, which can pollute storm water runoff and stress local habitats.  A structural benefit of the zinc paneling is its physical flexibility for some of the building’s curved walls, particularly the section along Broad that will span more than two stories.  To get a sense of how the Markel Center might look, check out the new Riverside Museum of Transport in Glasgow, UK, designed by Zaha Hadid. (more…)

Summer 2016 Audience Survey

We would like to know more about you and your motivations for connecting with the Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU!

Please complete the following short survey to help us better understand and serve our audiences. All responses are strictly confidential. Thank you for your support.

Launch Survey >>

A Green Guide to the Building (Part 1)

VCU and the ICA are committed to building a greener and more sustainable campus. Maximizing the opportunities of a new construction project, the ICA is incorporating technologies that ensure building operations will have a limited environmental impact. We spoke with the ICA’s Interim Director of Administration Jaime Baird about three engineering features — geothermal wells, green roof assemblies, and glass cavity walls — that will reduce the need for fossil fuels to maintain the building at a constant temperature and humidity required when exhibiting art. (more…)

Let the World Finally be Reached (First Contact: Nir Evron)

I was excited when the Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA) announced Israeli artist Nir Evron’s exhibition, Projected Claims, at VCUarts’ Depot Gallery, and, even more excited when I learned he would teach a seminar. I was intrigued by many aspects of Evron’s work: the reclaiming of history and poetic imagery, reviewing the Holy Land as pictured by its colonizers, and re-visiting Israeli memory through spatial architecture. Evron’s class and presence on campus would present the possibility of seeing the world through more than just a computer screen; they would help answer the question, how are artists dealing with contemporary subjects in other corners of the world? (more…)

Donor Q&A: Sally Bowring

Sally Bowring, artist, public art advocate, and ICA supporter, discusses her expectations and hopes for the ICA.

1. What does the ICA mean to you and why do you support it?
I came to Richmond for the first time in 1978, arriving on the opening night of 1708 Gallery, an amazing addition to Richmond! I have witnessed the impact of the renovated Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and have been part of the enormous growth of VCU’s School of the Arts since I’ve taught there for more than 30 years. I anticipate the ICA will continue the extraordinary growth of Richmond’s visual arts community. I fully support it because I trust it will bring the most contemporary and significant artwork to Richmond. I also support it because it was a dream of a dear friend Bev Reynolds. (more…)

Digital Downloads

Show your ICA spirit!

Update your desktop and mobile devices with screensavers and banners featuring the ICA’s iconic building, the Markel Center, in a repeating pattern.

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

Smart Phones & Ereaders (vertical) >>
Desktop (horizontal) >>
Social Banners >>

Image: ICA branded digital swag, April 2016. Designed by Michael Walker (B.F.A. ’16). © ICA at VCU

Words of Wisdom

As we celebrate the Class of 2016, our staff would like to share a few words of advice — some practical, some aspirational — to help them transition into the workforce and realize their dreams for the future. Congratulations graduates! We look forward to welcoming you back to campus and to the ICA in 2017.

Visualize Your Future
Where do you see yourself in ten years? What would your life look like then? Where would you like to live, how do you want to live? What type of work makes you feel most energized? What type of job would let you lead the life of your dreams? Do you want to get married? Have children? Travel the world? Imagine you are in that place ten years from now and then work your way back to the present. Think critically about the steps you need to take to realize your dreams. Don’t compromise on the things that are most important to you. Trust your gut. And remember, life goes by quickly and you only get one shot. What values do you want to live and share? What will you leave behind as your legacy?
— Lisa D. Freiman, Director (more…)

Donor Q&A: Micheal Sparks

Micheal Sparks, design and branding expert and ICA supporter, discusses his expectations and hopes for the ICA.

1. What does the ICA mean to you and why do you support it?
Through art and its geographic location, the ICA will act as a “bridge” for the community to come together and discuss issues using contemporary art as a platform.

2. What influence has art had on your life?
Being in the creative industry for over 30 years, working in many mediums, I’ve used art to help mold my work and sometimes launch campaigns and/or collections. Shapes, colors, and even an artist’s interpretations can help in one’s creative briefs. (more…)