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VCU to name building after first African-American dean

DePillars served as a Dea of VCUarts from 1976 until 1995.
DePillars served as a Dea of VCUarts from 1976 until 1995.(VCU Arts)
Published: Sep. 30, 2021 at 1:03 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) -Virginia Commonwealth University will be naming a fine arts building after the university’s first African-American dean.

The Dr. Murry N. DePillars Building will be located at 1000 West Broad Street. The building is 114,000-square-foot and houses the following departments:

  • Craft/Material Studies
  • Painting and Printmaking
  • Kinetic Imaging
  • Sculpture + Extended Media

The Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU has named its new Murry DePillars Learning Lab after the former dean. The lab houses the VPM + ICA Community Media Center.

DePillars served as a Dea of VCUarts from 1976 until 1995.

During DePillars time as dean, VCUarts nearly doubled enrollment, reaching 2,400 students and becoming one of the largest art schools in the country. He also helped organize campus and city jazz festivals and high-profile fashion shows.

DePillars was also a professional painter. He had knowledge of African art history and his paintings incorporated a vast lexicon of cultural iconography. He was a member of the Chicago-based collective AfriCOBRA — the African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists.

The dedication was authorized by a Board of Visitors resolution that was passed in September 2020.

A commemoration ceremony will be held on Sept. 30 from 5 to 6:30 p.m., which will feature an unveiling of the building signage and commemorative plaque.

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