Regions Central Virginia

Institute for Contemporary Art opening ‘is a big deal’

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Print this page by Joan Tupponce
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The institute is located at a busy intersection in Richmond. Photo courtesy
Virginia Commonwealth University

Joseph Seipel is elated about the publicity Virginia Commonwealth University’s new Institute for Contemporary Art has received in the U.S. and internationally. “It’s astounding,” says Seipel, ICA’s interim director. “This is a big deal in the world of creative art.”

VCU will open the Richmond facility April 21. Its inaugural exhibition, “Declaration,” will feature 33 artists from around the globe.

The nearly 41,000- square-foot building includes a 33-foot-high central forum along with galleries, offices, a learning lab, café, bar and 240-seat auditorium. 

ICA will exhibit art but will not have its own collection. It’s located at the busy intersection of Belvidere and Broad streets, an area where VCU owns several other properties.

In keeping with VCU’s master sustainability plan, ICA’s design incorporates technologies and design elements that make use of numerous natural resources. The project is designed to meet LEED Gold certification standards.

“This was the creative campus linchpin that was missing,” says Seipel of the center. “Students from across the campus can come in to see art and meet the artists when they are in town doing installations.”

ICA may be part of VCU, but it’s not just for students. It’s for “everybody in the city,” Seipel says. “We want people to come in and enjoy the exhibitions and talk about them. We hope it will spark cross-cultural conversations.”

Richmond is becoming a creative city and marketplace, he adds. “This offers one more opportunity to show everyone how forward-thinking Richmond is. I think this will be an arts tourist destination, bringing in people from around the country.”

Seipel wouldn’t be surprised if ICA attracts more than 30,000 visitors this year. “I think this is going to be another card in the deck for the city and the region,” he says. “We are looking forward to showing the world what VCU does.”

Seipel believes that ICA has the potential to be a major contributor to the evolution of contemporary art. “Much of the art that is coming in is brand new. Contemporary art is changing, and we will be on the cusp of that,” he says.

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