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Margaret Cogswell

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Margaret Cogswell

Landscape of Memories Washed Ashore



Watercolor and colored pencil on paper

Fair market value: $1000

Cogswell's drawings are the result of many months of walking, exploring, photographing and filming the landscape, often of an area she is researching for the development of her River Fugues projects. Much like an archaeologist or geologist, she may search for clues to the history of a river, a people, or a place in the enigmatic remnants of their past.

During the pandemic many of Cogswell's walks in Jackson Heights, Queens took her beyond her immediate neighborhood and across to the Flushing Bay Promenade. There she walked alongside marinas filled with docked leisure boats, watched planes arrive and depart from LaGuardia Airport, and followed swans and geese navigating the winds and currents. Even the tides linked disparate worlds, washing up discarded objects filled with memories and remnants of lives previously served elsewhere.

Landscape of Memories Washed Ashore (2020) emerged from these walks. It is a part of a series of drawings done almost in a journaling manner during 2020. These drawings are often acknowledging loss, paying homage to the defiant traces of a people, their lives embedded in a place - in a landscape - literally, metaphorically, or metaphysically.

Cogswell's approach to the page, her use of space, line, and watercolor is greatly influenced by her background of growing up in Japan, as well as having studied Chinese brush painting. For the most part, in Chinese and Japanese painting, the wash is put down first, to be followed then by using line to pull out forms. This allows for fluidity and a constant alertness to possibilities to be discovered in the moment of painting/drawing. In this way, forms suggested/created by lines are also permitted to have a life "outside the lines"---and can suggest movement and constant change.

While many Westerners may find Cogswell's use of space unsettling, this also comes from her experience in Japan where "space" or "ma" is not empty or "negative space", but actually has a presence filled with just as much weight as any otherwise defined forms. Thinking about how we see and remember things/places/ landscapes, both my videos and drawings often "hang" in space-leaving one to remember or imagine what else is in the landscape- out of range or focus in the world around it.

Margaret Cogswell is a mixed-media installation artist residing in New York. Cogswell is the recipient of numerous awards, including the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in 2009. Other awards include fellowship grants from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation (2017-18, 1987, 1991) the New York Foundation for the Arts (2007,1993); and Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Emergency Grant (2014). Cogswell was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and raised in Japan where she lived until she was 13 years old. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee and a Master in Fine Arts degree in sculpture from Mason Gross School of Art at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Since 2003, the main focus of Cogswell's work is an ongoing series of RIVER FUGUES projects that explore the increasingly politicized role of water. RIVER FUGUES is a series of individually unique mixed-media installations that explore the interdependency of people, industry and rivers. RIVER FUGUES began in Cleveland, Ohio with Cuyahoga Fugues, a mixed-media installation inspired by and incorporating generations of stories reflecting the life and dreams embodied by the Cuyahoga River.