Summer Sessions: Introduction
This summer, we will explore what it means to live in a commonwealth such as Virginia and how that commonwealth can and should evolve in the 21st century. Centuries ago, “the commonwealth” was understood to refer to a model of political organization whose goal was public welfare or the common good. The “commons” referred to a medieval notion of cultural or natural resources to which all members of society had access, and “wealth” referred to happiness or well-being. Considering both common wealth and common debts, through these sessions we will consider how we might recover the larger meaning and potential of “the commonwealth.” Galleries are open to the public during all sessions.
Summer Sessions: Commonwealth launches on Saturday, June 15 with its first Program Session. Held on Saturday afternoons, Program Sessions invite us to go deeper into each week’s topic through a mix of discussion and experience, and to reflect together about what to carry forward.
Saturday, June 15
1 pm | Welcome:
Introduction to Summer Sessions
Remarks by Dominic Willsdon, Executive Director, ICA at VCU; Stephanie Smith, Chief Curator, ICA at VCU; Noah Simblist, Chair, Department of Painting and Printmaking, VCUarts
1:30–2 pm | Talk
Why was Virginia founded as a commonwealth rather than a state, and why should that matter today? Brent Tarter, founding editor of the Library of Virginia’s “Dictionary of Richmond Biography” (Richmond), introduces the ideals and limitations embedded in Virginia’s influential Declaration of Rights and its formation as a commonwealth.
2–3 pm | Workshop
Pablo Guardiola and Michael Linares of Beta-Local lead a workshop to collaboratively map the terms “common wealth” and “common debt” through discussion, writing, and drawing. Beta-Local, an artist-led non-profit based in San Juan, is a collaborating partner for the next phase of Commonwealth (Fall 2020).
3:30–4:30 pm | Discussion + Workshop
The designers share the aesthetic and ethical concerns that shaped their approach to the Summer Sessions space, and will lead hands-on activities designed to shift how people interact with space and each other. Led by Quilian Riano of DSGN AGNC (New York) and Carlos Medellin (Fundacion Horizontal, Bogota).
4:30–5 pm | Reflections
What should we carry forward from this Session? We will reflect, discuss, and take notes on the gallery walls.
Session partners include Pablo Guardiola (Beta-Local, San Juan), Kevin LaMarr Jones (Claves Unidas, Richmond), Michael Linares (Beta-Local, San Juan), Carlos Medellin (Fundacion Horizontal, Bogota), Nicole Pollard (Philadelphia Contemporary), Quilian Riano (DSGN AGNC, New York), Brent Tarter (Library of Virginia, Richmond), and Nato Thompson (Philadelphia Contemporary).