ICA announces curator, still under construction

The ICA announced earlier this month that Lauren Ross will begin her new position as curator of the museum on Oct. 6. Photo courtesy of Institute for Contemporary Art, Virginia Commonwealth University.

Janeal Downs
Staff Writer

Although the VCU Institute for Contemporary Art still looks like a heap of rubble at the intersection of Belvidere and Broad, the museum announced earlier this month that Lauren Ross has been chosen as curator, and will begin her new position Oct. 6.

Ross said her responsibilities as curator will include designating the museum’s opening programs, organizing exhibitions and actively collaborating with people in the education departments who are in charge of producing appropriate programs for a variety of audiences with things such as lectures, tours or workshops.

Ross also said unlike most museums, the ICA will not have a permanent collection and will instead focus entirely on contemporary art exhibits with dynamic and thought-provoking presentations.

“We don’t just put the art up on the wall,” Ross said. “We want to make sure that there are lots of ways for people to access it, so that can be anything from writing the text that you see on the labels to developing public programs.”

Ross received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in art history from Cornell University and Hunter College, respectively.

Following her selection by the ICA’s search committee, Ross will be moving to Richmond in early October, before she begins her new position on Oct. 6. Although she will be relocating to Richmond from Tulsa, Oklahoma, Ross is originally from a suburb outside of Manhattan in New York City.

While in Tulsa, Ross served for three years as curator of the Philbrook Museum. Prior to her position at the Philbrook, she curated in New York City at the Whitney and Brooklyn Museums. Her last job in New York was as the curator for The High Line, an outdoor park in Manhattan that is built on a former elevated freight train line.

One reason Ross said she had interest in the ICA is because of the unique experience of having a stake in the museum since its foundation, as well as VCUarts’ incredible national reputation.

“I’ve seen that the caliber of work coming out of (the art school) is just outstanding, so that was definitely a big attraction,” Ross said.

Ross said she has worked with many VCU faculty and alumni in the past, and is excited to work with Lisa Freiman, the ICA director. She said she is also eager to live within and experience the city.

“Richmond strikes me as the kind of place where you get a balance because there’s great culture, there’s great fun and recreational things to do,” Ross said. “It seems like the quality of life is really high and you’ve got the intellectual community and VCU which is really exciting and stimulating.”

Ross said she is interested in working with faculty within the School of the Arts and other departments to develop interesting content for VCU students.

Sophomore communication arts major Gareth Bentall said though he has not heard much about Ross, he is excited the curator is a woman.

“For the sake of diversity,” Bentall said. “It’s just something different than a white man in charge.”

Bentall said he would like to see the curator interact with the students on a personal level and see what students would like to see featured in the ICA.

“(The ICA) going to be a real dynamic piece for VCU arts students and a real asset to the Richmond community as well,” Bentall said.

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