The word “tephra” derives from the Greek word for “ash,” and it’s used to describe the process of how lava and other materials ejected from geothermal eruptions nourish and change the environment on which they land. Now the term has been borrowed to better encapsulate the mission of one of the region’s preeminent arts organizations.
The Greater Reston Arts Center (GRACE), a 501c3 nonprofit founded in 1974 by local artists and residents to prioritize the arts as an essential component of a well-rounded life, just announced that it’s changing its name to Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art (Tephra ICA). According to a statement, the new name emphasizes the nonprofit’s “belief in the combustibility of creativity and generation of ideas and growth that the arts can provide.”
As the programs, audience and impact continued to evolve over the past number of years, staff and board members felt the original name was increasingly less reflective of its vision. Board chair Robert Goudie says that GRACE considered a name change in the past, but the current timing seemed particularly auspicious for an update. Going forward, Tephra ICA strives to be a catalyst, creator and advocate for visual arts, promoting innovative and contemporary works and recognizing the ability of art to broaden and shift perspectives while sparking difficult social conversations.
The rebrand had already begun when executive director and curator Jaynelle Hazard came on board in March 2020, and she is excited to see the project come to fruition.
“Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art reflects my vision of fostering meaningful dialogue, contextualizing artists’ work in the historical canon, and presenting critically engaged, experimental practices,” she said in a statement. “I look forward to our growth and introducing forthcoming initiatives that will advance the organization.”
Ruth Abrahams Design created the new visual identity, which balances the classic and contemporary with a bright green accent color signifying growth and regeneration. The logo’s slightly off-balance angle is evocative of a new way of looking at something.
In the wake of new initiatives including the 50-foot-tall steel sculpture Buoyant Force installed in Reston Town Square Park, Tephra ICA’s first headlining exhibition will be a show by Gisela Colón, a Puerto Rican and German light and space artist that further symbolizes the organization’s constant fluctuation of energy and evolution.
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