FORUM Vol. 39, No. 6, September 29, 2014


ArtPrize entry tattoos Eberhard Center windows

Since ArtPrize’s inception, Grand Valley’s Pew Grand Rapids Campus has played host to artwork from around the world.

This year Grand Valley is hosting a collaborative piece with the University of Michigan that will be showcased at the Eberhard Center during the international art competition, which runs through October 12.

Crafted by Jim Cogswell, University of Michigan Stamps School of Art & Design professor, River Tattoo is an 85-foot piece celebrating the Grand River and the Blue Bridge crossing over it.

During recent interviews, Cogswell has described the river as flowing “through my mural in a pattern of rhythmic lines rising and falling around the bend in the building, with the bridge reflected in it.” Cogswell said he is “enchanted by the river’s power and its sparkling patterned surface — constantly shifting in response to the forms of the ripples — the light and the reflected environment.”

River Tattoo

The ArtPrize entry at the Eberhard Center, ‘River Tattoo,’ is 85-feet-long
and celebrates the Grand River.

River Tattoo was crafted from thousands of pieces of adhesive vinyl applied directly to the glass to form a mosaic of colored fragments. Negative spaces within and between the different design elements frame reflections of the landscape in the windows of the Eberhard Center. The mural’s design is based on handmade drawings and photographs that were later converted into a digital format to be assembled for the installation. The original drawings and photographs consisted of ink drawings of animal-like forms, collages made from adhesive shelf paper, and digitally multiplied photographs of ordinary houseplants.

Henry Matthews, director of Galleries and Collections at Grand Valley, said the partnership between Grand Valley and Cogswell began more than two years ago when Elona Van Gent, former Grand Valley professor and current University of Michigan associate dean of academic programs, introduced Matthews to Cogswell.

“River Tattoo is a magnificent, complex and exciting work of art that will undoubtedly command a great deal of attention with ArtPrize visitors,” said Henry Matthews, director of Galleries and Collections at Grand Valley. “At 85 feet in length, it will be difficult to miss!”

The mural will remain installed on the first floor windows of the Eberhard Center for a minimum of three years.