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…)

In Virgin Land (still), 2006. Digital video, stereo sound. Running time 12 min. Courtesy of the artist and Chelouche Gallery, Tel Aviv

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 Swag Spring 2016

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…)

Micheal Sparks

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…)


HQ’s Garden

The ICA’s headquarters is located in a one-level storefront on Broad Street, just a block from the construction site. One of the best, yet little known, features of the space is the rear patio and box garden. Spring 2016 marks the first anniversary, and our second spring, of our staff working in the space. Last summer saw the box garden bursting with flowers and vegetables, including a pink rose bush, heirloom tomatoes, and green peppers.

This year, we are fortunate to have amateur gardener Traci Garland, Interim Registrar and Assistant Director of Facilities and Administration, available to help create another memorable feast of flowers and vegetables. To help understand her process, following are her thoughts on the collection of plants. (more…)

Pop-Ups, Paper Architecture, and the 2015 Holiday Card

Sandy Wheeler, artist and VCUarts faculty, shares her process for creating the ICA’s very popular holiday card and limited edition pop-up gift.

  1. What was your motivation and inspiration for the holiday card and pop-up?

We were tasked, by the ICA’s staff, to create a holiday card and gift that acknowledged and thanked the ICA’s supporters with something made by hand. Our conscious and subconscious inspirations included the building and its relationship with the city; Borgesian* slices of space, time, and orientation; and the materiality of Italian paper sculpture, rheinzink, and glass. (more…)


Donor Q&A: Sara Reed

Sara Reed, art and design historian 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 really see the ICA as a place for making connections, bringing our community together to make new connections through challenging and innovative works of contemporary art. Richmond is already a really vibrant, diverse community and I believe this space will be a means to draw out the best in all of us.

2. What influence has art had on your life?
I am not an artist, but art has greatly impacted my life as a catalyst for thinking about new ideas, serving as a looking glass into new perspectives that may be foreign from my own or as a mirror reflecting and consistently challenging my way of thinking. (more…)

ica-chartres v2

Part 1: Chartres Cathedral and the Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU, Henrico Students Compare Gothic to Contemporary

“Gothic cathedrals immediately popped into my mind when I saw the ICA’s video, Richmond’s Missing Piece,” says Rebecca Field, Art and Art History Teacher at Douglas Freeman High School in Henrico County. “I teach a lot about far away places so I’m often looking for things happening in the community that my students can relate to.” (more…)


Britnie Dates—ICA Intern and Trend Spotter

“Just like with art, you have to break the rules sometimes,” says Britnie Dates (BFA 2016), a Fashion Merchandising major with a minor in Art History at VCUarts, when describing her retail philosophy. “Even if trends indicate customers shouldn’t be interested in books, you know your customers best. Maybe you know your customers want books.”

Dates, a retail strategy intern at the ICA since the fall of 2015, conducts research about potential products and vendors for the future Lewis & Butler Foundation Gift Shop. She looks at comparable institutions across Richmond and nationally to find out what successful museum shops offer, and simultaneously, identifies unique products for the ICA’s patrons.

Dates’ relationship with the institute started more than a year ago when ICA Director Dr. Lisa Freiman gave a talk to Dates’ Emerging Leaders Program in the spring of 2015. “I’m pretty shy,” Dates says. Yet, she mustered up the courage to introduce herself. What started out as a casual conversation turned into an email exchange, a meeting to talk about Dates’ future career goals, and finally an internship at the ICA.


Donor Q&A: VCUarts Professor Sonya Clark

Sonya Clark, artist, educator, 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?

The ICA is pure opportunity. It’s a vessel to bring the diverse populations of Richmond together around thought and action. The ICA presents a real opportunity to bring the world to Richmond and Richmond to the world with art at the helm.

2. What influence has art had on your life?
It’s hard to answer this question. As an artist and an educator, art is simply my oxygen. I could not survive without it. (more…)


ICA Digital Wallpapers

To help start the new year right — and to thank you for joining us on our journey — we’re sharing these complimentary ICA wallpapers for your digital devices and social accounts.

The digital files, featuring the wireframe logo, were initially conceived as possible interior treatments for ICA headquarters. When an alternative idea was accepted (details to come!) we asked the designer, VCUarts Professor Rob Ventura, to convert the files into digital wallpapers.

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

Image: ICA branded digital swag, 2016. Designed by VCUarts Professor Rob Ventura. © ICA at VCU


Behind the Scenes: Installing “Projected Claims”

As a Ph.D. student in art history and curatorial intern, I spend the majority of my time researching, writing, traveling, and gazing at works of art. Sounds fun, right? (Actually, it really is!) Yet for the sake of making it sound so sublime, I must tell you there is dirty work involved. One of the most arduous aspects of the curatorial process is installing the exhibition. There is a lot of planning and drafting involved — as well as painting, spackling, lighting, and sometimes construction — but when the art is placed inside the gallery, along those bare walls…that’s when the gazing gets real.

Projected Claims is a delicately balanced presentation of immersive videos and enigmatic images, which represent Evron’s oeuvre of film, photography, and video. The curatorial vision for the exhibition began with Lauren Ross — who I have the pleasure of assisting during my internship at the ICA — as she sought to expand the architectural themes of Evron’s images by transforming the Depot Gallery space into a cinematic environment for contemplation.  (more…)

Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 11.30.53 AM

Lauren Ross on New Dominion

For years I’ve been a fan and friend of Mixed Greens gallery in New York City so when they reached out to me in the spring and asked me if I wanted to curate a summer show of Richmond artists, I jumped at the chance.  At that point I had been in Richmond for only about 5 months, and felt like I had only just begun to scratch the surface in terms of getting to know local artists and their work.  So I went into overdrive, conducting as many studio visits as I could in the period of about one month.  (more…)

Garden 2016

The “Secret Garden” Project

The ICA is working with a group of community members to help transform an unused outdoor space at our temporary headquarters into a “Secret Garden” that can be used for events and educational activities. ICA Director Lisa Freiman tapped a number of community members for the project, including Sally Schwitters from Tricycle Gardens, Patrick Farley of Watershed Architects, Greg Riggs from Field of Dreams Farm, Julie and Paul Weissend of Dovetail Construction, Peter Fraser of Fraser Design, John Haddad of Slow Food RVA, Ronni McCord of Walter Parks ArchitectsMitzi Lee of VCU Real Estate Services, VCUarts Project Manager Dinkus Deane and VCU student Josh Son. The team has brainstormed some ideas for the space including a vertical garden and courtyard entertaining space. Dinkus Deane kicked off the improvements with the construction of a metal gate. 

Creating an ICA mOb

To help spread awareness, the ICA team has engaged Middle of Broad (mOb), VCU’s applied design studio located in Richmond Downtown Arts District. Under the guidance of faculty members, VCUarts students from VCUarts’ Interior Design, Graphic Design and Fashion Design & Merchandising departments can elect to participate in mOb and take on real-world projects in the community. We asked our mOb group to generate ideas for spreading the word about the ICA to the VCU and Richmond community. They generated a long list of creative happenings or “mOb Moments” that will take place over the next several months. Our first moment, 99 Red Balloons, happened during the RVA First Fridays art walk in April. Student volunteers lead a balloon parade down Broad Street and engaged the community in conversation about the ICA.