The power of new ideas.

Tephra - Pollywog, a Naming Agency

Founded in 1974, the Greater Reston Arts Center is the largest 501(c)3 nonprofit in Reston, VA solely dedicated to enhancing community life through excellence and involvement in the visual arts. Its descriptive name has long been reduced to an acronym—GRACE—and over time, the meaning of that word became increasingly less connected to the organization’s goals and personality. Though leadership and key constituents recognized the need for a new name, the daunting prospect of achieving community acceptance for such a drastic change to a beloved institution impeded progress.

Then in 2019, as leadership anticipated an influx of new visitors from a soon-to-open metro train station in Reston, they decided it was time to tackle rebranding. They reached out to Pollywog to guide the organization’s 20+-member board through the renaming process and help gain consensus. Through the process, we learned that this bright, creative group of people wanted a name that challenges guests to learn something new when they hear it—just as guests learn something new when they engage with contemporary arts.


New ideas begin in a simmering cauldron of alternative thought, bubbling beneath the surface of society. Through the heat and pressure of artistic creativity, these ideas explode into the light of day in the form of contemporary arts. Disruptive ideas expressed in the arts—in every style and medium—settle onto society, reshaping our cultural landscape and changing our perspectives.


Tephra is the collective term for material ejected by an erupting volcano. It can be any type of fragment of any size and composition, just as the arts can be expressed in many styles and media. At Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art, disruptive ideas explode into view and help reshape the landscape of our society.


The new visual identity program for Tephra ICA is aesthetically clean, minimal and contemporary. Created by Ruth Abrahams Design, the logo (above) is formed using a modern and unique sans serif typeface and a slightly shifted angle. The font and style choice speak to the organization’s core goal within accessibility. The angle, or shifted element signifies a change and a frame for a new way of looking. It captures mission-related themes of combustibility and disruption, and can be viewed as an edge, a dimension or a window. The brand color is a vibrant green, representing growth, renewal and the generation of new ideas and perspectives. Together, the elements create a fluid dynamic between timeless and contemporary, and between a flat plane and depth.




Greater Reston Arts Center