All of the art has been removed from the first-floor gallery at the Institute for Contemporary Art to make room for conversation.

Summer Sessions, a nine-week series centered around dialogue and conversation, will kick off this Saturday. There will be regular Saturday afternoon sessions and Wednesday night socials featuring a D.J. and drinks.

“The ICA is committed to discussions with art at the center,” said Stephanie Smith, chief curator for the ICA, at a preview. “We’re not just displaying objects, but we’re a place for people to come together through conversation.”

The theme of this year’s Summer Sessions is “commonwealth” and how it relates to natural resources, environment, assembly and public domain.

The first-floor gallery space has been transformed by a series of colorful curtains that can be pulled to create different spaces for social networking and break-out discussions.

“We’ve commissioned plenty of art, but this is the first time we’ve commissioned a work of design,” said Smith, referring to the gallery’s layout.

There are also spaces for writing ideas down on the walls.

Summer Sessions is a project that will be held at the ICA for the next three years.

The results of this year’s Summer Sessions will feed into an exhibit that will debut in the fall of next year.

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VCU art professor Corin Hewitt went digging into the basement of his house in the Fan District for his new exhibit, “Shadows Are To Shade,” at the ICA.

Hewitt dug two holes into the soil at his home to create an excavation site. Bits of coin, shells and pottery that he found are on view in the exhibit, as well as hands and body casts put into strange places, like coming out of an Instant Pot.

The artist said he is interested in exploring how his domestic daily rituals, like cooking, intersect with his art.

One room at his home at 1 S. Granby St. will also be open to the public on Saturdays from 1-5 p.m. for the run of the exhibit.

“Shadows Are To Shade” will be on view from June 15 to Sept. 1.

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Here are a few other updates at the Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU:

  • Rashid Johnson’s “Provocations” exhibit on the third floor has been extended into October.
  • Ellwood Thompson’s Café at the ICA will close permanently on June 30. The ICA is seeking a new tenant for the space.
  • Carol Anne Baker Lajoie, the director of development at the ICA who was instrumental in helping raise the $37 million capital campaign, left for the Richmond SPCA in May.
  • The ICA is not currently looking for a replacement.

ccurran@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6151

Twitter: @collcurran

Colleen Curran covers arts and entertainment for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. She writes the weekly column Top Five Weekend Events.

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