ICA at VCU announces July reopening, fall exhibitions and launch of collaborative public programs

Fall season kicks off with a national collaboration exploring the notion of “Commonwealth” and featuring new artist commissions, print/digital publication and community programs.

Digital drawing of a garden behind the ICA at VCU.
Concept drawing for Duron Chavis' "Resiliency Garden," part of the ICA at VCU's upcoming "Commonwealth" fall exhibition. Design by Quilian Riano of DSGN AGNC. (Courtesy photo)

CONTACT: Meredith Carrington
Institute for Contemporary Art
Phone: (804) 828-1088
Email: mtcarrington@vcu.edu 

CONTACT: Katrina Reynolds/Delaney Smith
Resnicow and Associates
Phone: (212) 671-5184 / (212) 671-5160
Email: kreynolds / dsmith@resnicow.com

The Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University will reopen to the public on July 17 with new health and safety protocols in place, and has extended the run of “Provocations: Guadalupe Maravilla” and The Otolith Group: Xenogenesis” through Aug. 9.

The ICA also announced Monday its fall slate of exhibitions, beginning with “Commonwealth,” a multi-institutional, bilingual collaboration among the ICA, Philadelphia Contemporary and Puerto Rico-based Beta-Local. The exhibition explores the complex history and legacy of “commonwealth” through new artist commissions, a hybrid print/digital publication and a series of online programs.

The season also includes “Fernanda Laguna: As Everybody,” the Argentinian artist, writer and activist’s first solo exhibition in the United States, and “Kandis Williams: A Field,” a site-responsive multimedia commission by the Los Angeles-based artist.

In response to events that have shaped recent months, including the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement, the ICA has been adapting its program and exhibition strategy for sustained online programming options and to engage in dialogue with current issues. One example is the transformation of “Commonwealth” by the three participating institutions into a hybrid digital/in-person experience. Many of the commissioned artists also have adapted their new works to be responsive to the current moment.

Another is the launch of "Public Study," a series of collaborative, public programs designed to open up the various processes behind the ICA’s exhibitions, programming and publications — from research and production to learning and dialogue. “Public Study” will be integrated into the ICA’s long-term programming strategy and continue to offer its audiences a critical space to connect and exchange ideas.

“The ICA is a young contemporary arts institution born into an era of social and political tumult,” said Dominic Asmall Willsdon, executive director of the ICA. “This fall, in the midst of a global pandemic, at the height of the U.S. elections, and as people take to the streets to challenge systemic racism, we have an opportunity and duty to work with artists to probe many of the most pressing issues to our community and our country. ‘Public Study,’ in particular, will allow us to build on our longstanding practice of putting dialogue and mutual learning at the heart of our work. Now more than ever, we hope that, through art and research, we can collaboratively create a space for new perspectives, productive conversations and intersectional dialogues.”

“Public Study” offers local, national and international audiences additional opportunities to connect with the art, artists and ideas featured in ICA exhibitions and programs. At a time when social distancing has created a critical need for human connection and exacerbated the isolation of the research process, this slate allows the ICA to continue to connect with its audiences and make the extensive research and study behind its exhibitions public and participatory.

“Public Study” programs connected to this fall’s exhibitions include:

  • “Public Annotations,” an exercise that invites people to read, edit and respond to open-access PDFs of key texts related to “Kandis Williams: A Field,” bringing multiple voices and perspectives into the development of ICA exhibitions and related scholarship
  • “High on the Tide (Mareadas en la Marea),” a series of international Zoom discussions with the goal of building a toolkit for feminist and gender activism
  • A Zoom discussion cohosted by Williams in conversation with communities of women involved in sex/eroticism work, whose expertise has aided in the research and development of Williams’ new ICA-commissioned sculptures
  • A series of online programs related to “Commonwealth”


This month, the ICA will launch “1-844-NOT-Z00M,” an art hotline that invites audience members to dial in to hear original poetry, songs or words from artists.

The diverse slate of presentations this fall showcases a wide spectrum of contemporary artistic voices from Virginia, Argentina, California, Puerto Rico and beyond, reflecting the ICA’s focus on both local and global artists and experiences. One focal point is an exploration of feminism and intersectionality, with “Fernanda Laguna: As Everybody” and “Kandis Williams: A Field,” both part of the Feminist Art Coalition, a nationwide collaboration among arts institutions that aim to make public their commitment to social justice and structural change through feminist-centric exhibitions and programming.

The ICA schedule is as follows:

“Commonwealth”

Sept. 12–Jan. 17

“Fernanda Laguna: As Everybody (Como todo el mundo)”

Oct. 10–Jan. 10

“Kandis Williams: A Field”

Nov. 7–Aug. 2, 2021

About the Institute for Contemporary Art

The Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University is a noncollecting institution that showcases a fresh slate of changing exhibitions and programs. The ICA is a place to explore new ideas, providing an open forum for dialogue and collaboration across the region and the world. Mirroring the increasing emphasis on cross-disciplinary studies across VCU, the ICA has created a new environment for artists and scholars from around the world to test ideas. As a university-wide resource, the ICA links campus, community, and contemporary artists by supporting local creative communities, engaging an international network of contemporary artists and organizations, and encouraging collaborations with VCU departments, faculty, students and the Richmond community. The ICA is a responsive institution that offers a broad range of artistic perspectives with the goal of questioning assumptions and encouraging critical discourse. For more information on the ICA, please visit icavcu.org.

About VCU and the VCU School of the Arts

VCU is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 217 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. One of the nation's leading schools of arts and design, VCU School of the Arts offers 15 undergraduate and 10 graduate degree programs in fine arts, design, performing arts, historical research and pedagogical practice. Distinguished faculty members are internationally recognized in their respective fields, contribute significantly to the stature of VCU, and are committed to mentoring the next generation of artists, entrepreneurs, scientists, scholars and engaged citizens of diverse communities around the world. Its campus in Qatar provides students and faculty with a direct tie to the Middle East and underscores the school and university's commitment to global education and experience.