Jim Cogswell - SILENCE
American, born in Japan, b. 1949
Hand-cut adhesive shelf paper, glitter, rubber stamps and ink, acrylic paint, mulberry paper, and BFK Rives heavyweight paper, 94 x 217 inches

Alumni Gift

Jim Cogswell was born and raised in Japan, the son of missionary parents. After receiving his BA in English Literature, he returned to Japan where he began his study of painting. He continued to travel for his education and went on to earn an MFA from the University of New Mexico in 1982. He has been a faculty member of the University of Michigan School of Art and Design since 1990, where he is the Arthur F. Thurnau Professor. He has been asked to lecture on his work throughout the world and has exhibited both nationally and internationally. Cogswell works in a variety of media including drawing, painting, installation art, printmaking, ceramics, and set design for stage performances.

The dominant visual element of SILENCE is a hand-cut adhesive shelf paper collage based on images representing the seven letters of the title (SILENCE), one letter for each panel. The letter images are molded into ovoid shapes suggested by the gores for celestial globes. I wanted the individual elements of my images to hover like constellations in the sky, enhanced by the strategic placement of luminous reflective spots and by coordinates suggesting the celestial equator and the ecliptic. Mulberry paper fragments arranged in the margins around the gores bear stamped images representing, letter for letter, a passage from the Book of Job: “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me if you have understanding.” The title itself is inspired by a quotation from Pascal: Le silence eternel de ces espaces infinis m’effraie.