Art Exhibit Highlights the Importance of Water

Photo Credit/ Amanda Berry Margaret Cogswell gallery reminds viewers of the necessity of clean water in the environment through several types of visual media.

Amanda Berry

Staff Writer

The River Fugues is an art exhibition being presented here at ESU in the Madelon Powers Art Gallery through February until early March.

Created by Margaret Cogswell, she uses mixed media to showcase the fundamental role of water today. The exhibition is an array of individually exclusive site-specific installations.

“I’m interested in visual language and how — when we put images together like a poet puts words together… what happens and how that stimulates and provokes our imagination,” stated Cogswell when asked about her process in creating the art installments.

Cogswell has been an installation artist since 1980 and grew up in Japan. She says that “growing up in Japan bilingual and in a culture so different from that in the US made me think about what is lost in verbal translation so I turned to visual images/languages.

“The way Japanese is spoken you describe all around the center rather than depending on just one word or none to describe what you want to say,” said Cogswell. In addition, her works are inspired by the same idea and are why she uses multiple components such as video, images, and drawing in her art.

The exhibition is comprised of parts of larger yet separate pieces she has created. All of the River Fugues have been thoroughly researched and include recordings, images, narratives and other forms of art.

Cogswell beautifully encapsulates emotions into her pieces that show the importance of water in our everyday lives. Rivers have played a huge part in industrial growth and how we make a living today.  With the inevitability of climate change, we need to be mindful about waste that is put into our waters.

The  River Fugues is an ongoing project which “explores the interdependency of people, industry, and rivers in post-industrial cities,” says Cogswell.

Cogswell hopes to provoke thought and emotion about the importance of the relationship between rivers and people through her exhibits. It’s easier to understand if you visit the exhibition in person because once you see the installments you will have a better appreciation for water and rivers.

There will be an upcoming reception for the artist this Thursday, Feb. 7 from 4 to 6 p.m. There also will be a panel on the 27 of this month for anyone who would like to ask some questions about the gallery, her works, or maybe her inspiration for the pieces.

For more information on the gallery’s hours, one can visit ESU’s website and go to the Fine and Performing Arts Center page. The artist herself also has a website at for more information about her and her works.

Please feel free to stop in the Madelon Powers art gallery here on campus now through March to see this captivating exhibition!

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1 Comment

  1. Thank you for the article about the show. Please know that the presentation and panel discussion on February 27 will focus on not only Ms. Cogswell’s work, but, more importantly six water activists, including ESU’s Dr. James Hunt will participate in a discussion and exchange with the audience on water issues facing our community and the power of art o communicate the urgency of threats to our water sources. Dr. Pat Kennedy, emerita professor of communications will moderate the panel which will include, in addition to Dr. James Hunt: Bob Heil, executive director of the Brodhead Watershed Association, Abby Jones and Emily Rinaldi of PennFuture, an environmental advocacy organization, and Jennifer Shukaitis, ESU alumna, author of Lasting Legacies of the Minisink and activist for local environmental issues. The presentation and discussion will take place on February 27 at 7 p.m. in the Cecelia Cohen Recital Hall in the Fine and Performing Arts Center.

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