The Cherry Gallery – 2022 Cornell Biennial

The Cherry Gallery

Local Futurities

Monica Franciscus, Leo Kang, Blažo Kovačević, Grace Sachi Troxell, Van Tran Nguyen, Muhammad Zaman


  • Sep 23-Oct 30, 2022
    The Cherry Gallery
    130 Cherry St, Ithaca, NY 14850

  • thecherry.org

Local Futurities

While the fifth Cornell Biennial features invitational and Cornell artists on the Ithaca and New York campuses, the Cornell Council for the Arts (CCA) imagined partnering on a corollary regional exhibition that would highlight the legacy of the vibrant artistic activity of our Upstate region. The Cherry has been CCA’s ideal partner with its commitment to international experimental performance and innovative approaches to local history and storytelling. The collaboration resulted in a regional call for competitive submissions, from Buffalo to Binghamton, that tweaked the Biennial theme to focus on “Local Futurities.”

The amazing result lies in the conceptual, political, and global daring of the exhibition by a bold group of multicultural artists who transform the local. Consider their creative responses to the digital technologies of surveillance underlying national security and immigration control that envelop communities of color. Or the medial promise of their installations celebrating emergent communities of cross-cultural identity and mixture. Equally striking is their response to ecological precarity through artistic recycling and imaginary visions of the ecofuture.

The Cherry Arts / The Cherry Gallery

The Cherry Arts is a multi-arts hub that creates spaces for collaboration and experimentation across artistic and cultural boundaries. The Cherry began in 2015 as a loose group of Ithaca-based theater artists seeking ways to create professional work outside of the ordinary US theater landscape, without sacrificing our jobs and childcare (and gardening!) obligations. We started producing new international work in venues around town.

In 2017, founding Artistic Director Samuel Buggeln, and his partner, The Cherry co-founder Nick Salvato, built The Cherry Artspace at 102 Cherry Street on the banks of the Cayuga Inlet in Ithaca’s West End. The Artspace is a flexible, multidisciplinary arts and performance venue. The Cherry launched our mission to support a wide range of artists and arts organizations by hosting them in the Artspace. Forms to date have included dance, music, puppetry, chamber opera, storytelling, burlesque, cabaret, installation, folk arts, and many more.

The theatermaking arm of The Cherry became The Cherry Artists’ Collective, an independent, self-governing ensemble of artists. The Collective develops new performance works that are radically local, radically international, and formally innovative. We’ve presented English-Language premieres of new plays from France, El Salvador, Germany, Québec, Serbia, Belgium, Mexico and Argentina, and commissioned innovative new performance works (including headphone walking-plays and plays incorporating video) from Ithaca-based writers.

In the fall of 2021, The Cherry expanded into two new arts spaces! The Cherry Gallery and Camilla Studio are located in the new Ithaca Arthaus at 130 Cherry Street just across the parking lot from the Artspace. The Gallery will house visual arts exhibitions, and the Studio will be home to rehearsals, classes, and more. Both spaces are also suitable for small-scale performance.

Above the Gallery and Studio in the Ithaca Arthaus are 120 apartments exclusively for lower- and middle-income families, with 40 units set aside for young people who had been unhoused. The Cherry is in the process of creating a slate of programs to engage and support folks who live in the Arthaus, alongside the broader community—with “art hives,” writing workshops, a public mural project, an open mic series, classes, and more. Set to launch in the fall of 2022, these programs are designed to make a big impact on the lives of the people in this community, empowering people to tell their stories and make positive change in the world.

Monica Franciscus

Intimacy is a constant in my work – now, people’s relationship with the Earth and each other. So much is produced, wasted and  discarded, destined for landfills. Repurposing highly designed car bumpers means what I find determines the sculpture, although formal aesthetics/principles (form, color, composition) remain. These pieces are symbolic for the biggest contributor to greenhouse gases, large companies collaborating with politicians (not changing regulations). The end of the Industrial Revolution, ubiquitous robots in industry, resulting unemployment, poverty, inequality; each is intimately intertwined. See more at artbymf.com.

Leo Kang

Leo (Laewoo) Kang is an indie researcher and artist, majorly working in the field of Human-Computer-Interaction (HCI) and media art. Kang’s work explores how art practice can be a legitimate and beneficial model for learning, teaching, and conducting research for HCI, design, and the broader STEM fields. Kang uses various art practices (painting, music, photography…), technology design, and ethnography as an integrated method to understand and study this interdisciplinary topic. Kang also exhibits his artwork as an alternative form of research representation in which core research questions are explored in both aesthetic and speculative ways. Kang holds a PhD in Information Science from Cornell University (2022). Please find more information about Kang’s work on his website, leokang.com/portfolio.

Blažo Kovačević

Blažo Kovačević (b. Podgorica, Montenegro) earned his B.F.A. in painting from the University of Montenegro in 1997, and his M.F.A. in painting from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 2000. Incongruous social phenomena are reoccurring themes in his work; he is driven by a fascination with conflict. His work explores contradictory visual elements and juxtaposes incompatible materials, ideas, behaviors, and technologies. Kovačević has received numerous awards for his work and has been interviewed and reviewed in distinguished art publications and media. His work has been shown in both Europe and the United States in numerous solo and group exhibitions. He is currently an associate professor of art and design at Binghamton University (SUNY).

Grace Sachi Troxell

Grace Sachi Troxell is a sculptor based in Ithaca and Brooklyn, New York. In her current work she uses clay and found objects to explore entanglements between organic and inorganic materials, form and deformity, and digestion. She received a BS in Studio Art from Skidmore College, a Post-Graduate certificate in painting from the Glasgow School of Art, and her MFA from Cornell University. She has been artist-in-residence at MacDowell, Yaddo, Sculpture Space, the Studios at MASSMoCa, Woodstock Byrdcliffe, Willapa Bay AiR, The Pottery Workshop in Jingdezhen, China, Dumfries House, Scotland, and The International Textile Art Symposium, Daugavpils Rothko Center, Latvia. She’s currently artist-in-residence at Sharpe-Walentas in Brooklyn. She teaches at Cornell University and Ithaca College.

Van Tran Nguyen

Van Tran Nguyen is a multimedia artist, curator, and filmmaker. Her research focuses on the intersection of diaspora and emergent technologies. Tran Nguyen was born in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and immigrated to America in 1997. She holds a BA in Fine Arts and Biology and an MFA from the State University of New York at Buffalo. In 2021, she received a PhD in the Philosophy of Electronic Art at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. Tran Nguyen is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies department at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Muhammad Zaman

Zaman is an Urban Artist based in Buffalo, New York. His style, which belongs to the calligraffiti movement, is one of the most contemporary interpretations of Hurufiyya art. His style moves from ancient calligraphy to post-modern abstractionism. The mix of languages that he uses includes English, Bengali, and Arabic. The further artistic elaboration of the composition involves the juxtaposition of different layers of colors and words, that will make the work illegible. His work as Public Art appears in several locations in NY state. He exhibited in art galleries, Museums, and art fairs in Buffalo, NYC, London, Rome, and Miami, among other locations. His concepts are about the peaceful coexistence of different cultures. His favorite medium is acrylic on canvas or muralism.

See all Biennial Artists