Art as Language: a panel moderated by Lisa Freiman

The Chrysalis Institute launches their fall theme, Creativity: The Soul Speaks, with a panel moderated by ICA Director Lisa Freiman, who has assembled a panel of creative arts professors discussing how their art enables them to “speak” in different languages. A group of musicians, visual artists, writers, and dancers will demonstrate how their art forms communicate by performing an act of “translation” for the audience. The panel’s goal is to enable participants to understand the unique ways in which art can be an expressive tool and how artists can interpret the same theme or concept in different ways.

When: 7-9 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 10
Where: Richmond CenterStage’s Gottwald Theater
Cost: $20
Purchase tickets on the Chrysalis Institute website.

Panelists will include:

Lisa Freiman, moderator, is the inaugural director of the ICA and a VCU School of Arts professor. She is an internationally recognized curator and leader in contemporary arts and comes to VCU from the Indianapolis Museum of Art, where she served as senior curator and chair of the contemporary art department.

Ed Coleman, co-moderator, currently teaches English at Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School in Richmond. In his 20 years of teaching, Ed has designed curriculum for a number of high schools and, in 2009, was recognized as a Milken Family Foundation educator for Indiana.

Darryl Harper is chair of VCU’s Department of Music. He has performed as a clarinetist throughout the world and is a published composer and accomplished bandleader. He currently leads the C3 Project, a multimedia presentation of music, video, dance and poetry. He has taught for more than 20 years and has received the Gold Pin Award for extraordinary contributions to the VCU community.

Sasha Waters Freyer makes non-fiction films about outsiders, misfits and everyday radicals. Trained in photography and the documentary tradition, she fuses original and found footage in 16mm film and video. Most recently, she has crafted lyrical explorations of motherhood, documentaries on the New York of her youth and essay films on the cultural and political legacies of the late 20th century. She is chair of the Department of Photography and Film at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Lea Marshall is associate chair of the VCU Department of Dance and Choreography. She is co-founder and executive director of GroundZero Dance, the dance critic for Richmond’s Style Weekly and a renowned performing artist. She is also an award-winning poet and freelance journalist who is passionate about interdisciplinary art making.

Elgie Gaynell Sherrod chairs VCU’s Department of Dance and Choreography. Before her academic career, she spent 15 years performing, touring and teaching with groups such as Philadanco (the Philadelphia Dance Company) and Urban Bush Women. Elgie is a Fulbright-Hayes scholar in dance research, taught at New York University and founded and directed the New York City Department of Dance Institute.

This is a Chrysalis Institute event that is co-sponsored by the ICA and VCUarts.

New Dominion

The ICA’s Lauren Ross is curating an exhibition of work by Richmond-based artists at Mixed Greens gallery in New York’s Chelsea district this summer. New Dominion features the work of Sonya Clark, Ben Durham, John D. Freyer, Susie Ganch, Hope Ginsburg, Noa Glazer, Arnold Joseph Kemp and Richard Roth. With a subtle nod to Richmond’s history and its present, the exhibition presents works that touch on tensions between the past and the future, independence and loyalty, individuality and community.

Image: Susie Ganch, From the Pile Series: Triangle Trade, 2015, mixed media and collected detritus (detail).  Courtesy of the artist and Quirk Hotel, Richmond.

Lisa Tells All

Have any burning questions for ICA Director Lisa Freiman? She’ll tackle them over a beer at Isley Brewing Company. All ages are welcome. VCUarts Dean Joe Seipel will act as referee. Visit and come armed with a zinger! Can’t make it? Tweet your questions to @VCU_ICA.

“Free Ice Water” Installation

John D. Freyer’s “Free Ice Water” installation can be seen in the ICA office window through March 31. Here’s a bit about the project.

In 2013, VCU Professor John Freyer begun Free Ice Water, an art project in which he sits down with individuals for conversation over a Mason jar filled with ice water. Intended to be focused and uninterrupted, this conversation can be around personal, even difficult topics. At its conclusion, the participants sip the water, drop a small object of personal significance into the jar, then seal and sign the jar with its lid. This ongoing project is loosely based on therapeutic methods of treating substance addiction, and arose from the artist’s questioning of his own dependency on alcohol.

Free Ice Water offers the possibility of art as a gesture of giving; a humble service, free of charge, intended to encourage moments of self-reflection and sharing between people. Each jar offers something universal—water, one of the most basic, elemental needs—combined with something very individualistic, as captured in the object and signatures.

The thirty jars on display in the ICA window are the result of Freyer conducting sessions with participants of the Virginia Collegiate Recovery Conference, held at VCU’s Wellness Resource Center on March 27, 2015.

When Art Meets Fashion

Please join us at Style Weekly’s When Art Meets Fashion event at Richmond’s Saks Fifth Avenue on April 11. Reynolds Gallery generously donated fine art which will be auctioned to benefit the ICA. Guest will also enjoy a Diane Von Furstenburg fashion show, music, cocktails and more. Tickets $75-$125 available here.

“Rhythm” a Fall Line Fest Juried Exhibition

ICA Director Lisa Freiman curated an exhibition of work by 20 emerging and established Richmond-area artists at Gallery 5 in conjunction with the annual Fall Line Fest. “Rhythm” runs through Sept. 25.

  • ICA Director Lisa Freiman welcomes the crowd of nearly 350 gathered for the groundbreaking.

  • Steve Markel, Kathie Markel and VCU President Micheal Rao at the June 3, 2014 groundbreaking for the Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University.

  • VCU President Micheal Rao speaking to the crowd of donors, university leadership, Richmond area arts leaders, students and faculty at the June 3, 2014 groundbreaking.

  • Markel Corporation leadership participate in a paint performance marking the future site of the Markel Center at the Institute for Contemporary Art.

  • Steve Markel (left) and Richie Whitt, leadership from the Markel Corporation, participate in a paint performance marking the future site of the Markel Center at the Institute for Contemporary Art

  • Mike Crowley (left) and Gerry Albanese, leadership from the Markel Corporation, participate in a paint performance marking the future site of the Markel Center at the Institute for Contemporary Art

  • The ICA logo is revealed.

  • VCUarts Dean Joe Seipel operates the backhoe to officially break ground on the ICA.

  • VCUarts Dean Joe Seipel after just breaking ground.

  • Members of the ICA Campaign Committee with architect Steven Holl, ICA Director Lisa Freiman, VCUarts Dean Joe Seipel and VCU President Michael Rao.

  • ICA Director Lisa Freiman, architect Chris McVoy, VCUarts Dean Joe Seipel, architects Steven Holl and Dimitra Tsachrealia


Tuesday, June 3, 2014
Location: Future ICA site, corner of Broad and Belvidere streets

Nearly 350 people gathered for the groundbreaking of the Markel Center, the Steven-Holl-Architects-designed building that will house the Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU. Following remarks by Board of Visitors Vice Rector Bill Royall, ICA Director Lisa Freiman, Markel Corporation Vice Chairman Steve Markel, and VCU President Michael Rao, the groundbreaking festivities began. Leaders from Markel Corporation rode two scissor lifts 30 feet up and poured paint in the ICA colors down on a mural created by VCUarts alumnus Ed Trask. Then a giant stencil was pulled back to reveal the ICA logo. Afterwards, VCUarts Dean Joe Seipel broke ground with a giant backhoe to cheers from the crowd of donors, arts and community leaders, students and faculty gathered.


“Virginia’s Favorite Architecture” Exhibition at Virginia Center for Architecture

Architects across the state nominated the ICA for Virginia’s Favorite Architecture, a contest and exhibition organized by the Virginia Society of the American Institute of Architects. After voting by the public, the ICA was ranked no. 49 out of 100 structures. An impressive feat considering the ICA is the only unbuilt building on a list that includes Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and Virginia state capitol, as well as other widely regarded structures. The exhibition runs through Oct. 19 at the Virginia Center for Architecture.

VCU Institute for Contemporary Art Pavilion at the Fall Line Fest

The VCU Institute for Contemporary Art presents Aziz + Cucher’s video installation, Synaptic Bliss, on the site of its future home during the two-day Fall Line Fest along Broad Street, Friday, Sept. 6 from 5-8 p.m. and Saturday, Sept. 7 from 12-8 p.m. Prior to the festival, artists Aziz + Cucher will speak at the Grace Street Theater on Friday, Sept. 6 at 4 p.m. All events were free and open to the public. Special thanks to Altria whose generous support made this event possible.


2012 Windmueller Artist Lecture Series Presents: Steven Holl

The 2012 American Institute of Architects Gold Medal recipient, Columbia University professor, and architect of the VCU ICA shared his insights on designing for the arts. The lecture was free and filled with a standing-room-only crowd.

Watch the video >