In 1990, Jim Cogswell joined the faculty at the University of Michigan Stamps School of Art & Design, where his teaching has focused primarily on painting and drawing. He was born and raised in Japan, studying literature, philosophy, and religion as an undergraduate English major. Using painting and drawing as the knowledge base for his artistic practice, he has explored a variety of media languages in his work...
In 1990, Jim Cogswell joined the faculty at the University of Michigan Stamps School of Art & Design, where his teaching has focused primarily on painting and drawing. He was born and raised in Japan, studying literature, philosophy, and religion as an undergraduate English major. Using painting and drawing as the knowledge base for his artistic practice, he has explored a variety of media languages in his work, using printmaking to invent an anthropomorphic alphabet, digitally translating the alphabet into rubber stamps to inscribe literary passages onto gallery walls, using those stamps to devise installations of low relief ceramic tiles exploring language and pattern, creating giant adhesive shelf paper collages based on phonetic letters and celestial maps, using painted paper plates to evoke the interstellar molecular soup and an installation of brilliantly decorated paint cans to represent an astronomical model of the birth of stars. He has collaborated with cosmologists to digitally visualize dark matter, constructed an acoustically interactive mechanized painting, and designed machine cut adhesive vinyl window murals to visually interact with architectural structures and landscape vistas.
Attracted to interdisciplinary projects, Cogswell has collaborated in performance works, videos, and installations with poets, dancers, musicians, composers, cosmologists, astronomers, a biostatistician, a computer science engineer, and a mechanical engineer. For example, in 1997, he collaborated with dancer/choreographer Peter Sparling to help create the stage performance Seven Enigmas, with contributions from biostatistician Fred Bookstein and space physics research scientist John Clarke. The stage performance Ariel Web (2000) was created with poet Richard Tillinghast, Peter Sparling, Fred Bookstein, and composer Andrew Mead. In 2000 he worked with dancer/choreographer Evelyn Velez-Aguayo on a new performance work in collaboration with MacArthur-prize-winning composer Bright Sheng. In 2010 he completed a set of pen and ink illustrations for U-M historian and anthropologist Tom Trautman’s A Brief History of India (Oxford University Press). In 2014, he received major funding for Jeweled Net of the Vast Invisible, a collaboration with two cosmologists and a composer/musician to create an immersive multi-media experience of dark matter.
During the 1992-93 academic year, Cogswell was the Charles P. Brauer Faculty Fellow at the University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities. In 2000 he received the Michigan Arts Award. Throughout his career at UM he has received numerous grants from the Office of the Vice-President for Research and the Horace P. Rackham School of Graduate Studies. In 2008 he was appointed Arthur F. Thurnau Professor in recognition of his outstanding contributions to undergraduate teaching. In 2014 he was elected a Senior Fellow in the Michigan Society of Fellows. During the 2016-17 academic year, he was again Charles P. Brauer Faculty Fellow at the University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities.
Cogswell has had solo exhibitions at Florida State University Museum of Art, the Urban Institute for Contemporary Art in Grand Rapids, the Walton Art Center, Purdue University, the Nashville Parthenon, the Krasl Art Center, the Amarillo Art Center, the Frances Wolfson Art Gallery of Miami, the Institute for Contemporary Art in Tallahassee, and the Jacksonville Art Museum. He has lectured at colleges and universities around the country and has been invited to speak on his work at conferences in Japan, Ireland, Hungary, France, Italy, Israel, Greece, Poland, and the UK.
Cogswell's work can be found in the public collections of the Yale University Art Gallery, Yasuda Life Company of New York, Mbank of Houston, Barnett Banks of Florida, the Museum of Albuquerque, the City of Tallahassee, the Tamarind Institute, Washtenaw Community College, Valencia Community College, Florida State University, and the University of Michigan. His 11,000 square foot vinyl window mural Enchanted Beanstalk occupies eight floors of windows on the new Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan Medical Center.