February 20, 2007“A viable center where our faculty can engage the largest, most important emerging nation in the world” -- that’s how Buzz Spector describes the vision for a proposed contemporary art center linking Cornell University with Tsinghua University in Beijing.
Spector, chair of the Department of Art, along with art faculty members Xiaowen Chen and Associate Dean Stan Taft, has been engaged for some time in discussions with art faculty at Tsinghua, and there is agreement in principle to organize a Cornell/Tsinghua Center for the Study of Contemporary Art. Located in the Academy of Art and Design at Tsinghua, the center would promote exchanges between the two universities, with the primary participants being professional artists, art faculty, and scholars.
“Tsinghua is very interested in our pedagogy -- the way we teach contemporary art,” Spector said, explaining that in China art is taught in two separate tracks, contemporary and traditional, and that contemporary art tends to be marginalized.
Officials at Tsinghua and Cornell are currently trying to determine more precisely the nature and purpose of the proposed center, and to confirm financial support from both universities. In addition to dedicated administrative and studio space for four to six visitors, the center is expected to have the resources to support exhibits, conferences, and publications.
Work by Cornell art faculty will be exhibited at Tsinghua in June, and Tsinghua faculty will send their work to Cornell next year. Hang Jian, an art historian/theorist at Tsinghua, will spend the spring semester at Cornell as a scholar-in-residence and will participate in discussions about the proposed center.
Meanwhile, contact between artists in Ithaca and Beijing is flourishing. An exchange of exhibitions of graduate student work is planned for Cornell and the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. Last November, Spector and Chen attended an international symposium at Tsinghua on the subject of Art and Science. The symposium featured an exhibition that included work by Associate Professor Barry Perlus, a joint project by Taft and architecture faculty member John Zissovici, and work by Rama Hoetzlein (A.B./B.F.A. ’01), who also attended the symposium.