The Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University has named Dominic Willsdon as executive director. Willsdon, who previously served as curator of education and public practice at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art since 2006, will assume the directorship on December 1. He succeeds Joseph Seipel, the VCU School of Art Dean Emeritus who served as interim director following the departure of the museum’s founding director, Lisa Freiman, in January.
“The VCU community enthusiastically welcomes Dominic Willsdon as the new executive director of the Institute for Contemporary Art,” said Gail Hackett, provost and vice president for academic affairs at VCU. “Dominic is a dynamic leader, curator and educator in the contemporary art world, and his career-long focus on issues related to cultural equity, inclusion, and civic engagement make him a natural fit for the ICA.”
In his role at SFMOMA, Willsdon led efforts to engage new audiences through community and civic partnerships, including helping to secure funding for “free admission for visitors 18 years of age and younger, art commissions in performance and social practice, film programming, [and] professional development for teachers,” according to a press release. Prior to his tenure in San Francisco, Willsdon was curator for public programs at the Tate Modern in London for five years.
“I have admired the ICA team’s work to create this phenomenal new institution, which has demonstrated in a few short months how art and dialogue can powerfully address issues in society today,” Willsdon said. “It’s clear that both Richmond and the wider art world have embraced the ICA at VCU, and I look forward to continuing to shape its vision and program alongside my new colleagues to ensure the ICA remains responsive to the broadest possible audience and a vital venue for international contemporary art.”
The ICA at VCU opened in Richmond in April following several delays and staff changes (read BA’s coverage of the opening here). The museum’s inaugural exhibition, “Declaration,” closed earlier this month. Two new exhibitions open on October 17: a group show called “Hedges, Edges, Dirt” including work by artists Abbas Akhavan, Jonathas de Andrade, David Hartt, Julianne Swartz, and Pascale Marthine Tayou, and a large-scale work by Rashid Johnson commissioned by the ICA. Johnson’s work commences a series of commissions by the museum called Provocations.