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'Cosmogonic Tattoos' Installation Extended to 2019

It’s hard to miss the colorful installations that have taken over the windows of UMMA and the Kelsey Museum of Archeology

Jim Cogswell giving a tour of 'Cosmogonic Tattoos,' (Photo by Mark Gjukich)What began as a temporary exhibition in celebration of the University of Michigan’s Bicentennial has transformed into an integral part of each building’s architecture. As a result, Cosmogonic Tattoos, by Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design Professor Jim Cogswell, will be extending its stay until June 2, 2019.

“Jim’s work is playful and deeply thought out, and we’re so happy to extend Cosmogonic Tattoos for another year,” says UMMA Director Christina Olsen. “His work animates the space where people spend time relaxing, studying, and gathering.” 

While creating the tattoos (watch our behind the scenes video), Cogswell reflected on immigrant crisis in Syria, world views towards immigrants in general, and overarching themes of pillages throughout history. 

“It became, very naturally, a narrative about objects being carried from one place to another” said Cogswell.

The hybrid creatures on the windows are often seen carrying objects, but they themselves are objects as well. For example, each hand found within the piece (look closely, there are many) is directly taken from a painting or sculpture from the UMMA collection. 

“I plundered hands from UMMA,” said Cogswell. “Hands tell stories. Hands are very important. We as humans are accustomed to reading hands. What people’s hands are doing communicate something to us.”

Cogswell hopes that people continue to enjoy his artwork, and continue to discover new parts of the narrative as they visit the museums. 

“It’s been wonderful,” says Cogswell. “I enjoyed the installation process more than I expected. I want to make things that people just look at, live with, or inhabit in some way.”

We can expect more projects in museum spaces from Jim Cogswell in the future. The artist is planning on traveling to Athens, Greece, this summer to begin first steps for new work with similar themes and goals. 

by Alex Carey