Since ArtPrize’s inception, Grand Valley State University’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, September 24 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.”

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. “At 85 feet in length, it will be difficult to miss!”
The mural will remain installed on the windows of the Eberhard Center for a minimum of three years.

To vote for River Tattoo, use the voting code: 56874.

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