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Institute for Contemporary Art exhibit aims to be ‘catalyst for conversations’

RICHMOND, Va. -- Thousands of people packed the Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA) for its grand opening on Saturday in Richmond.

The "Storm in the Time of Shelter” work features life-size mannequins wearing colorful Ku Klux Klan robes.

“I’m amazed, but also horrified, too -- seeing some of the artifacts," one visitor said.

Another woman said she needed to "stand back and take it in." She said the work tackles a "heavy" topic in which she sees the "artistic value."

ICA Interim Director Joe Seipel said work is part of the larger "Declaration" exhibition, which aims to shine light on various topics and issues.

“Hopefully we’re going to be a catalyst for conversations that need to be talked about,” Seipel said.

Stephanie Smith, chief curator for the ICA, said the "Storm in the Time of Shelter” display is just one of the many themes portrayed inside the exhibition.

“Racial justice, gender, difficulties communicating with cross barriers, the impact of humans on the built environment,” Smith said.

The exhibition features the work of 34 artists from all over the world.

“I think that it’s important to talk about the past or else we’ll repeat it," one visitor said.

The free exhibition runs through Sept. 9. The institute is located at 601 W. Broad Street.