Building on its long tradition of leading thematic discussions and exhibitions related to issues in the arts from a campus-wide perspective, the Cornell Council for the Arts (CCA) hosted its first ever Biennial in 2014 — a two-year platform for engaging the most urgent questions that artists face within culture and life in the 21st century. While it has brought critical issues in the arts to the Cornell community in many exhibition formats since its start in 1964, the CCA has established a Biennial to serve as its primary means of bringing faculty and students together around an idea that impacts the visual and performing arts both within and outside of the university.
While most art Biennials are showcases for a vast number of artists and events, the CCA Biennial is intended to take a deep rather than wide view of an idea that can be best addressed and articulated within a research university. Unique among its peer institutions in acknowledging the importance of the arts in the intellectual and cultural aims of a leading university, Cornell offers an environment particularly prepared for an engagement with contemporary art that is both new and provocative.
Through its two-year timeline, that includes art commissions, faculty project grants, co-sponsored visiting lectures, related curricula and semester-long, campus-wide exhibition, the CCA Biennial invites the Cornell community to experience art in uncommon spaces and contexts, opening up the ways in which it is known by disciplines and audiences unaware of the common creative ground shared by the arts, humanities, and science.
It is the aim of the CCA to raise the visibility of the arts at Cornell by bringing artists working within the university together with artists working internationally into direct contact and to establish a means by which their contact has significant, tangible outcome that has lasting impact on students, faculty and staff.
The 2016 CCA Biennial focus is on the cultural production of empathy. The upcoming biennial will address the ways in which feeling is form and explore how the objects, buildings, clothing, machines, languages, and images we construct are shaped by our intentional or implicit emotional, interdependent relationship to others.