Soundings essay by Lilly Wei


“Soundings,” an exhibition of new works on paper by Margaret Cogswell and Ellen Driscoll, is an evocative, two-pronged study of Red Hook, a community facing New York Bay (and the Statue of Liberty). Since it is both urban and maritime, they decided to divide it between them, Cogswell focusing on water and Driscoll on land. Their soundings, an acquisition of information about the location, as well as a testing of that acquisition, were based on closely observed details that cumulatively became immersive, adding up to a portrait of a place, a record of what exists now, embedded in the residuum of what existed before. Retrieving what they discovered—and what fortuitously came their way—each artist limned a composite of an old, gritty industrial neighborhood, that, in another turn of the historical wheel, is once again thriving.

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