Jim Cogswell's Enchanted Beanstalk (2011)
is an adhesive vinyl mural applied to eight floors of windows, covering 11,000 square feet of glass across the west face of the new Mott Children's and Van Voigtlander Women's Hospital at the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor.
The design incorporates hundreds of fanciful elements suggesting plant, animal, insect, and human forms, landscapes, architectural environments, and quirky mechanical contrivances in strong colors and varying scales.
When seen from outside the designs form a continuous intricate tapestry. Inside, each floor is composed of unique image elements rhythmically sequenced to follow the movement of viewers along the public corridors beside the windows. In waiting areas the designs invite lingering exploration by expanding into dramatic scenes set against the outside landscape. The elements seem to inhabit the world we see through the glass, implying that the space beyond is full of possibilities we have not yet begun to imagine.
The overall design is connected between levels by a climbing vine that evokes the story of Jack and the Beanstalk. Jack scrambles up through layers of clouds to a magical world where he encounters a frightful giant whom he courageously outwits, securing a long and prosperous life for himself and his mother by bringing home the goose that lays the golden eggs.
From floor to floor the viewer is transported through layers of imaginary worlds, each with a different visual theme and composed of unique image elements. A set of simple designs for counting the floors is found at the entry to each level. Between levels galaxies spin, insects buzz, and eggs drop from one floor to the next, finally accumulating as a pile of magic beans around the base of the beanstalk at ground level.
Click below to explore the full design layouts for each floor.
The design constantly changes in response to the incidence and intensity of light determined by weather and time of day. At night the silhouettes crisply defined by interior lighting enliven the exterior of the building, suggesting an oversize cabinet of wonders. Under direct sunlight, shadows falling across interior surfaces transport viewers to a shifting world of insubstantial presences.
Born and raised in Japan as the child of missionary parents, Jim Cogswell returned to that country after receiving his undergraduate degree to begin the study and practice of painting. Since that time, his drawings, paintings, prints, and sculptures have been exhibited nationally and internationally.
In 1990, Cogswell joined the School of Art & Design faculty, where he is currently Professor, teaching primarily in painting and drawing. During the 1992-93 academic year, he was the Charles P. Brauer Faculty Fellow at the University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities. In 2000 he received the Michigan Arts Award. Throughout his career at U-M, he has received numerous grants from the Office of the Vice-President for Research and the Horace P. Rackham School of Graduate Studies. In 2008 he was appointed an Arthur J. Thurnau Professor, in recognition of his outstanding contributions to undergraduate education.
Drawn to interdisciplinary projects, Cogswell has collaborated in installations and performance works with composers, dancers, poets and scientists as well as other visual artists. In 1995, he collaborated with his sister, video/installation artist Margaret Cogswell, on a site-specific installation at the Nashville Parthenon. Two years later, he worked with dancer Peter Sparling along with biostatistician Fred Bookstein and space physics
research scientist John Clarke to create Seven Enigmas, staged at the Power Center for the Performing Arts in Ann Arbor. Other collaborators have included performance artist Mark Anderson and poet Richard Tillinghast. A multimedia performance work entitled The Ariel Web was created in collaboration with Tillinghast, Sparling, Bookstein, and composer Andrew Mead. In 2000 he also worked with dancer / choreographer Evelyn Velez-Aguayo on a new performance and installation work in collaboration with MacArthur-prize-winning composer Bright Sheng. He recently completed a set of pen and ink illustrations for U-M historian Tom Trautman's A Brief History of India, published by Oxford University Press.
Cogswell has had solo exhibitions at Florida State University Museum of Art, the Urban Institute for Contemporary Art in Grand Rapids, the Walton Art Center, Purdue University, the Nashville Parthenon, the Krasl Art Center, the Amarillo Art Center, the Frances Wolfson Art Gallery of Miami, the Institute for Contemporary Art in Tallahassee, and the Jacksonville Art Museum. He has lectured at
colleges and universities around the country and has been invited to speak on his work at interdisciplinary conferences in Japan, Ireland, Hungary, France, Israel and the UK.
Cogswell's work is 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, Valencia Community College of Orlando, Florida State University, and the University of Michigan.
In addition to Enchanted Beanstalk, Cogswell's work can be found in a number of other locations at the University of Michigan: a paper mural hanging in the atrium of the Ross School of Business, a vinyl window mural for the Department of Astronomy across the front of Dennison Hall, a cut paper mural climbing the atrium wall of the Institute for the Humanities, a collection of woodcut prints in the south foyer of the graduate library, and a selection of paintings at Palmer Commons.
The University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital is one of the nation's leading children's hospitals, providing cutting-edge specialty services for newborns, children and adolescents throughout the US and from around the world.
Mott Children's Hospital offers the full spectrum of pediatric care, in addition to a wide array of destination programs such as a world renowned congenital heart program, craniofacial anomalies
program, pediatric liver transplant, fetal diagnosis and treatment, and a Level-1 pediatric trauma program.
In December 2011, Mott moved into a new 1.1 million square foot, 12-story, state-of-the-art children's hospital, featuring the Von Voigtlander Women's Hospital on-site to provide seamless integration between high-risk perinatal, labor and delivery, maternal care and neonatal care in one single facility on the campus of the University of Michigan Health System.
During the planning and construction phases, the hospital worked in consultation with the University of Michigan Museum of Art to gather a collection of 260
pieces of art, with an emphasis on Michigan-based and women artists.
The Art Collection of the Children's Hospital and Women's Hospital is comprised of colorful, uplifting and contemplative works of art of high aesthetic quality that mirror the playful yet sophisticated architecture of the new building.
The collection, including Jim's mural and other large-scale, site-specific installations, as well as paintings, works on paper, fiber work, ceramics, glass, photography, projected interactive work and kinetic sculpture, can be found throughout the hospital and clinic buildings.