Margaret Cogswell is a mixed-media installation artist residing in New York and a recipient of numerous awards including the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship (2009), Pollock-Krasner Foundation (2017, 1991 & 1987), 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 in English Literature from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. In 1982, she received a Master in Fine Arts in Sculpture from Mason Gross School of the Arts 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 began in Cleveland, Ohio in 2002 with Cuyahoga Fugues, a mixed-media installation inspired by and incorporating generations of stories reflecting the life and dreams embodied by the Cuyahoga River.
RIVER FUGUES projects have since been commissioned by museums and art centers for exhibitions nationally and internationally. From 2016 - 2018 these projects have focused on the New York aqueduct system. In 2017, Moving the Water(s): Croton Fugues was created for the Mid-Manhattan Library in celebration of the centennial anniversary of New York City’s aqueduct system, and inspired by the location of the Mid-Manhattan Library which is across the street from the former site of Croton Distribution Reservoir, one of the first reservoirs in New York City.
Moving the Water(s): Ashokan Fugues was created first for a solo exhibition in 2014 at the CUE Art Foundation in New York City. A project focusing on the Ashokan Reservoir, in 2016 it was expanded to include narratives from the Catskills area and presented in a solo exhibition at the Kleinert/James Center for the Arts in Woodstock, NY. In 2018, another iteration of this mixed-media installation was presented in a solo exhibition at the ART Lab Gallery of Columbus State University in Columbus, Georgia and later in Callicoon, NY. In 2019, Ashokan Fugues was again adapted to the site for a solo exhibition at East Stroudsburg University’s Madelon Powers Art Gallery.
Other River Fugues exhibitions include: Soundings: Margaret Cogswell and Ellen Driscoll at Kentler International Drawing Space, Brooklyn, NY (2015); Water Soundings, Zendai Zhujiajiao Art Museum, China (solo 2014); Moving the Water(s): Ashokan Fugues and Wyoming River Fugues at CUE Art Foundation, NYC (solo 2014); Wyoming River Fugues at the Art Museum, University of Wyoming, Laramie (solo 2012); Mississippi River Fugues, Art Museum, University of Memphis, Tennessee (solo 2008); Hudson River Fugues at Tang Museum, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY, (group 2009-2010); River Fugues at BOZAR Centre for Fine Arts, Brussels, Belgium, Monaco Ministry of Culture and Chicago Field Museum (group, 2007-09); Buffalo River Fugues at Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, Buffalo, NY (solo 2006); Hudson Weather Fugues at Wave Hill, NYC (group 2005), and Cuyahoga Fugues at SPACES Gallery, Cleveland, Ohio (solo, 2012 and 2003).
Cogswell's professional career has also included teaching studio art at Purchase College School of Art and Design of the State University of New York; Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island; Kansas City Art Institute, Missouri; Parsons School of Design in New York and Kanazawa, Japan; the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Middlebury College, Vermont; The College of Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine, and the University of Hawaii-at-Manoa, Honolulu. From 1999-2011, Cogswell was Program Officer for the Visual Arts with the Asian Cultural Council in New York City.