Jim Cogswell was born and raised in Japan, studying literature, philosophy, and religion as an undergraduate English major. An Arthur F. Thurnau Professor at the Stamps School of Art & Design at the University of Michigan, he uses painting and drawing as the knowledge base for his artistic practice and has explored a variety of media languages in his work. Attracted to interdisciplinary projects, he 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.
Cogswell's work has been exhibited internationally. It 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 vinyl window mural Enchanted Beanstalk (2011) occupies eight floors of windows on the Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan Medical Center. Cosmogonic Tattoos (2017) was an adhesive vinyl window installation for the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology and the University of Michigan Museum of Art
based entirely on objects in their collections. Unseen Worlds (2021) is a window installation for the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History, based on scientific images of microorganisms. Vinyl Euripides (2022) is an installation for the Michael Cacoyannis Foundation in Athens, Greece, based on filmmaker Cacoyannis’ cinematic restaging of three plays by Euripides: Elektra, The Trojan Women, and Iphigenia.
Cogswell has twice been selected as a Faculty Fellow at the U-M Institute for the Humanities. In 2008 he was appointed Arthur F. Thurnau Professor in recognition of his outstanding contributions to undergraduate teaching and in 2014 was elected a Senior Fellow in the Michigan Society of Fellows. He has lectured on his work at universities around the US and at interdisciplinary conferences in Japan, China, Ireland, Hungary, France, Italy, Israel, Greece, Poland, Portugal, and the UK.