Stephanie Owens to lead Cornell Council for the Arts

Stephanie Owens
Lindsay France/University Photography
Stephanie Owens is the new director of the Cornell Council for the Arts.

Stephanie Owens, an artist, writer, curator and a visiting assistant professor of art in the College of Architecture, Art and Planning (AAP), has been named director of the Cornell Council for the Arts (CCA) for a three-year term effective July 1, 2011, Provost Kent Fuchs has announced.

Owens has been at Cornell since 2008. She succeeds professor of music Judith Kellock, interim CCA director from 2008 to 2010.

"The search for a new CCA director stimulated a vibrant dialogue among the search committee and many stakeholders regarding the skills and vision needed to fulfill the CCA's crucial role," said AAP Dean Kent Kleinman, who chaired the search committee. "Stephanie Owens fits the need and the time perfectly: she has the vision, energy, collegiality, creativity and broad conception of the arts required to lead the CCA in exciting and new directions."

Owens will oversee CCA initiatives including a grant program to fund projects by artists from across the Cornell community, as well as a large-scale collaborative annual event or exhibition commencing in spring 2012.

The organization has an annual budget of $225,000 for operations and funding initiatives. Fuchs agreed to increase the CCA budget from $175,000 in October 2010, along with additional funds for the small grants program. The CCA will announce details of the 2011-12 small grants program in the next few days.

The annual event model is a significant new addition to the CCA's mission, intended to bring national and international attention to the arts at Cornell.

Owens sees such an event as fostering "aesthetic research and scholarship [and] getting Cornell's vision of the arts into the world. Contemporary art offers many opportunities to connect the creative arts with the humanities and sciences," she said.

Owens teaches in the areas of visual culture and digital media and has a B.F.A. from Syracuse University and an M.F.A. in painting from the Art Institute of Chicago. At Cornell she has created new studio/theory hybrid courses and outlined a "top-tier program in new media" to be centered in AAP, in partnership with the Departments of Computer Science, Information Science, Art History and Engineering.

She will have an exhibition in October in Hartell Gallery, "Crowd Sourced Condo," an installation with six projections connecting live to Delhi, India; and is curating a related series of events, "SELFn (the networked SELF)," as a two-week public project focused on distributed information, the social Web and globalized media.

"She brings a wealth of experience in dealing with arts administration," said CCA search committee member Evan Cortens, a graduate student in the field of musicology and president of the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly. "I'm excited for more cross-constituency collaboration among faculty, staff and students, and that all arts activity can be funded, whether it's by an engineer or a painter."