The State of Art at Cornell
This article is the first in a series about art at Cornell. The full interview with Stephanie Owens, CCA Director, can be found here: http://www.slopemedia.org/genres/arts-entertainment/an-interview-with-stephanie-owens-cca-director/
That many students end their time here having never explored Cornell’s vibrant art scene is an intellectual and aesthetic travesty. The pervasiveness of pre-professionalism and its emphasis on particularism perhaps limits the appeal of art to many Cornellians (the term “art” itself is inherently subjective.) I, for one, am often too busy to find my way to Milstein or Tjaden Hall for exhibits put on by the Cornell Council for the Arts. But it is the admirable dedication, focus, and goals of CCA director Stephanie Owens that should compel students of all stripes to give contemporary art a chance—for it does indeed play an important role at a large research university.
The CCA itself “provides direct support to individual artists and acts as a platform for experiencing contemporary art at Cornell in a highly visible way,” according to Stephanie Owens. A competitive grant reward provides financial support to projects that carry the most artistic and intellectual benefit to the school and community; on average about 45 art projects receive grant money per annual cycle. Those interested in applying for a CCA grant should apply online at cca.cornell.edu. A call for applicants will be posted on the site sometime this spring for review in fall 2012.
Though one would think that this money would be limited to projects associated with AAP or A&S, each of Cornell’s twelve schools has seen a student or professor receive money for an artistic endeavor. The wide distribution of grant money reflects the CCA’s effort to facilitate collaborations between traditional research-centric disciplines and Cornell’s artistic community. Unlike traditional art, focused on the expression of a thematic idea or aesthetic, contemporary art is more speculative, sharing the “same spirit of curiosity and research that is native to the sciences,” according to Owens. As a whole, Owens and the CCA hope to expose Cornell students to art in its dynamic, beautiful forms; a more visible art scene undoubtedly holds intellectual and cultural benefit to the student body as a whole. As Owens states, “Art shows that A plus B could be Y. Students, faculty, and anyone who understands this defines the future.” The CCA is currently planning a university-wide art festival to be held in spring 2013, which will not only highlight projects at Cornell but will bring leading voices in the field to engage and collaborate with the university community. If by then you have not yet indulged in Cornell’s wonderful contemporary art scene, it will certainly be a good place to start.