About Us

The Cornell Council for the Arts (CCA) is a university-wide cultural organization that provides a platform for the creation of and public discourse on the contemporary arts on campus. Through our annual grant program, exhibitions, public talks, artist residencies, special projects, and student awards, CCA promotes interdisciplinary, collaborative, and experimental artistic forms to inspire innovative and challenging projects by students, faculty, departments, and programs from all disciplines.

(Photo: America Project by Paul Vanouse, 2022 Cornell Biennial; Photo by Anson Wigner, AAP)






116 W Sibley Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853



Cornell University hosts a Festival of the Contemporary Arts, a university-wide collaboration aiming to showcase the interdisciplinary nature of the arts community at Cornell. This festival sets the stage for the creation of a permanent committee.



James McConkey, Goldwin Smith Professor of English Literature, establishes the Committee on the Creative and Performing Arts (CCPA). Each creative arts department is represented and contributes to a shared mission of enhancing the cultural environment of the university and the visibility of the arts on campus.



CCPA receives a budgetary increase to $16,000 a year. The committee is tasked with supporting the performing arts, providing individual grants to artists, and funding larger collaborative arts projects on campus.



CCPA presents a case for adequate facilities for the performing arts. Cornell initiates a capital campaign for a theatre arts building, resulting in the creation of the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts in Collegetown.



CCPA becomes the Cornell Council for the Arts (CCA) and dramatically expands its programming to include visiting artists-in-residence at Cornell.



CCA launches the Fall Arts Festival, an eventual precursor to the Cornell Biennial, and holds campus-wide semester-long events in the Fall of '93, '94, '95, and '01.



CCA introduces Collaborative Symposiums, featuring public presentations and events by visiting artists, all centered on a common theme. Symposiums occur in '94, '96, '01, and '02, and themes include "Cultural Signs in Contemporary Art," "Creativity," "Native American Arts," and "Art and Politics."



CCA initiates special Grants Exhibitions in '94, '97, '01, '04, honoring 9-12 select artists from the prior several years of CCA grants, all taking place at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art.



With financial support from Bruce and Judith Eissner, CCA establishes the Eissner Artist of the Year Award for an exceptional and impactful alumna/us in the arts. Using these funds, CCA selects one artist per year for the award from '97 to '09.



CCA establishes the Undergraduate Artist of the Year Award, and continues to select talented undergraduate artists each year from '97 to '14.



CCA gains financial support for a series of Mind & Memory courses, exploring the common thread of creativity in numerous disciplines of study at Cornell.



CCA initiates the Edward M. Murray Committee on the Arts Scholarship, awarded annually to a talented undergraduate artist from '00 to '11.



CCA launches CornellPublic, a four-pronged initiative in public art, providing a platform for Cornell and visiting artists to engage in projects off-campus, on-campus, and in New York City. Between '05 to '09, collaborations emerge with Patrick Dougherty, XDesignGroup, and the New York Public Library Performing Arts.



CCA publishes a catalog of 25 years of artists, programs, and departments receiving funding from Cornell between 1985-2010. Visit the CCA office to view the catalog!



Stephanie Owens launches the first Cornell Biennial on campus. The Biennial is a semester-long arts festival with numerous events open to the public.



CCA partners with the Cornell Art Department to provide an online platform for soon-to-be BFA graduates to showcase their thesis portfolios during the COVID-19 pandemic.

2020 BFA Thesis Gallery

Mission Statement

The Cornell Council for the Arts has taken many forms since its inception in 1965. In the words of founder James McConkey, the university and its populations in every field “constitute a laboratory affording exceptional experiences through thinking, making and doing;” fostering excellence at every level to be carried outside the walls of the institution to the greater community.

The mission of the Cornell Council for the Arts is to be the conduit for this effort in the creative disciplines, including but not limited to visual arts, performing arts, creative writing and spatial, geographical aesthetics such as architecture and the landscape. It is the job of the Council to insure that these arts and the scholarly activity associated with them are equal partners in the university’s public image, and that the creative products of students and faculty alike are proudly put forward in local, national and international professional arenas.

To that end, the Council is mandated to provide both financial and philosophical support for initiatives that carry the highest innovative, experimental and life-changing potential in the arts, funding such projects through a competitive annual grant process, and initiating programs that encourage interaction with a broad variety of outside entities.

(Photo: BIGSOFTFUNGI by Vivian Lin, CCA Grant Program)

Director's Statement

Artistic verve lifts the spirits of the Cornell community as it reverberates across the campus. The vibrant proliferation of color, sounds, moving image, landscape, and built environment infects Big Red classrooms, exhibit halls, gardens, and labs. Imaginative intersections in art, music, performance, and design draw their inspiration from Cornell’s historical commitment to mixing creative inspiration with speculative endeavors in research, design, and pedagogy. The Ithaca campus boasts the world class Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, as well as extensive curatorial programs in new media art, hip hop, books, photography, film, fabric, sound, and landscape. What’s more, our internationally lauded centers of research in music, performance, film, writing, and computing infuse creative energy into our leading pedagogical programs across the fields of architecture, design, the fine arts, engineering, and the sciences.

Creation, Research, Theory, Design, Pedagogy. These artistic keywords exemplify the fabric of the Cornell Council for the Arts whose mission is to broaden the tapestry of the arts across the Cornell campuses in Ithaca, New York, Rome, and beyond, while expanding the impact and influence of Cornell artistic creativity and research throughout the nation and the globe. CCA’s sponsored projects and its international Cornell Biennial blend traditional strengths in classical practices such as painting, sculpting, composing, writing, acting, and designing with emergent research that brings artistic vision into contact with the latest developments in technology, computing, biology, sustainability, media, and the critical and cultural pathways forged in the humanities and social sciences. Through CCA the arts are networked anew across Cornell and the broader electronic highway. We invite Cornellians to breathe the arts.

CCA formally supports the creative and performative hubs of the Johnson Museum, Cornell Cinema, and the Cornell Concert Commission, while encouraging artistic creation in architecture, performance, design, media arts, and creative writing. Our grants, performances, and exhibitions open exciting paths of collaboration with the University’s distinguished interdisciplinary centers in technology, ornithology, sustainability, biology, computing, engineering, the humanities and social sciences. CCA also celebrates the inventive dynamism of the arts that lies at the core and fabric of all of Cornell’s professional research endeavors, whether through inventive chemical mixtures of paint, emergent interfaces in computing, visual and aural interfaces of landscape and nature, stunning imaging in science and astronomy, or electrifying folds of media projection and bold shapes of architectural surface.

We invite the Cornell community to join us in intensifying the Big Red artistic verve. Artistic inspiration breeds thought; imaginative creativity breeds innovation; and aesthetic pleasure breeds energy.

Timothy Murray Biography

Timothy Murray is Professor of Comparative Literature and English and Curator of the Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art in the Cornell Library. A curator of new media and contemporary art, and theorist of visual studies and digital culture, he has been forging international intersections in exhibition and print between the arts, humanities, and technology for over twenty-five years.

In addition to programming innovative series in video and cinema, he has been at the curatorial forefront of international exhibitions in digital and conceptual art. He staged the largest international exhibition of digital art created for CD-Rom, “Contact Zones: The Art of CD-Rom” (contactzones.cit.cornell.edu), which toured from 1999-2004 in the US, Canada, Mexico, France, with offshoots in Macau and Johannesburg. With Arthur and Marilouise Kroker, he curated and designed the conceptual internet art journal, “CTHEORY Multimedia” (ctheorymultimedia.cornell.edu), and, with Teo Spiller, he staged the first off-line internet art exhibition at INFOS 2000 in Slovenia. Most recently, he collaborated with Sarah Watson and Sherry Miller Hocking on “The Experimental Television Center: A History, ETC” at Hunter College Galleries in New York City and he curated “Signal to Code: 50 Years of Media Art in the Goldsen Archive” (rmc.library.cornell.edu/signaltocode) in the Cornell Library and the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art. He founded the Rose Goldsen Archive in 2002, which since has grown into a leading international repository of electronic and digital art.  He serves as co-moderator of the -empyre- new media listserv.

At Cornell, he was one of the founders of the cross-college undergraduate minor in Visual Studies and the graduate minor in Film and Video before serving as Director of the Society for the Humanities from 2008-2017. He currently is Co-PI of Cornell Mellon Studies in Architecture, Urbanism, and the Humanities. A national advocate for intersections between the arts and humanities, he serves on the Executive Committee of HASTAC and the Boards of Directors of the National Humanities Alliance and Humanities New York. Internationally, he is a Hai-Tian (Sea-Sky) Scholar, Dalian University of Technology, Dalian, China, and a Senior Fellow of the School of Criticism and Theory.

A recipient of fellowships and grants from NEA, NEH, Mellon, Rockefeller, Fulbright, and Korea National Research Foundation, Murray is currently working on a book, Archival Events @ New Media Art, which is a sequel to Digital Baroque: New Media Art and Cinematic Folds (Minnesota, 2008).  Among his publications are the books Medium Philosophicum: Thinking Art Technologically (Universidad de Murcia, forthcoming, 2017), Zonas de Contacto: el arte en CD-Rom (Centro de la Imagen, 1999), Drama Trauma: Specters of Race and Sexuality in Performance, Video, Art (Routledge, 1997), Like a Film: Ideological Fantasy on Screen, Camera, and Canvas (Routledge, 1993), Theatrical Legitimation: Allegories of Genius In XVIIth-Century England and France (Oxford, 1987), ed. with Alan Smith, Repossessions: Psychoanalysis and the Phantasms of Early-Modern Culture (Minnesota, 1998), ed., Mimesis, Masochism & Mime: The Politics of Theatricality in Contemporary French Thought (Michigan, 1997), ed. Xu Bing’s Background Story and his Oeuvre (Mandarin), co-edited with Yang Shin-Yi (Beijing: Life Bookstore Publishing, 2016), and ed. with Irving Goh of The Prepositional Senses of Jean-Luc Nancy, 2 Vols., diacritics (2014-16).