What are the Mysterious Structures on the Arts Quad?

Shawn Hikosaka, Cornell Daily Sun, September 16th 2018

One day, Cornellians woke up to find two unassuming, beige-colored structures in the Arts Quad that didn’t entirely seem at home there.

Some students jokingly speculated the construction was part of the planned Sophomore Village that is meant to be built on north campus on Cornell’s meme page. Few, if any, guessed correctly that it was built to host an art exhibit.

As part of the Cornell Council for the Arts Biennial, the two newly constructed box-shaped structures on the Arts Quad will house “Heave,” a two-part exhibit that will “probe the devastating effects of violence in our life and time” regarding issues of race and gender starting Sept. 20.

“Heave” is curated by Carrie Mae Weems, “one of the most influential artists in the country” according to Prof. Timothy Murray, English, director of Cornell Council for the Arts and curator of this year’s Biennial. Weems, a “socially motivated” artist with decades of experience, is responsible for the 1990 Kitchen Table Series recognized as “groundbreaking” by the N.Y.-based Guggenheim Museum.

“The Cornell CCA 2018 Biennial is organized around a central theme — duration: passage, persistence, survival,” Murray said. “All of the works that have been selected for the exhibition reflect various aspects of duration.”

“Carrie Mae Weems[’s] work has been inspirational for thinking about issues of race and gender … we’re extremely fortunate and honored to have Carrie Mae Weems developing a brand-new work for the Cornell campus,” Murray said.

“Heave” is one of a series of projects that have or will take place at different locations on campus. A robotically built sculpture using discarded wood materials — dubbed “Log Knot” — currently sits in the middle of Ag Quad, The Sun previously reported.

The Engineering Quad is also getting artistic attention. A separate installation called “Crystalline Basement” — which consists of a rock chosen from the Engineering Quad’s Rock Park West embedded in a compressed soil structure with plants — will be built next weekend.

The installation, inspired by the idea of powering the campus with geothermal energy, will showcase the materials that would be drilled through if such project were to take place.

“They’re doing a project that is meant to generate conversation or reflection about deep heat geothermal energy,” Murray said.

Along with this exhibit, there will be a film screening that gives viewers an idea of how deep down the rock is found. “Artists have plotted out a trajectory that is just as long as it would take to drill for geothermal energy,” he said.

Murray hopes that the CCA Biennial can help promote artistic projects on-campus while providing the opportunity to “intermix local artwork with extremely important international installations.”

“CCA aims to enhance the international visibility of the importance of art at Cornell across the campus,” Murray said. “I hope that the audience of Biennial works come to appreciate the critical and social possibilities of fine art.”