Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Map Art

Yesterday I wrote about how painting might be considered Land Art; about my painting as map-making.  The primary function of art is the integration of unconscious material into consciousness. Nature and the unconscious are one and the same; hence, I think of my paintings as maps that integrate nature/wilderness into visual consciousness.

As a contemporary art map-maker, I am in good company. Google “map art,” and you will be overwhelmed with the volume that is out there. Elisabeth Lecourt folds maps into representations of clothing. Sara Cardona paints organic forms over topographical maps. Bill Gilbert, co-founder of Land Arts of the American West, transposes his travels, signified by dots and lines, onto topographical maps, with audio narratives, recorded while walking the routes marked on the maps, accompanying the resulting wall art. These he calls “Physiocartographies" (http://smudgestudio.blogspot.com/2009/08/bill-gilbert-exhibits-physiocartography.html).  I’ve been watching Gilbert’s art for some time, with considerable interest. It foregrounds the extent to which we have barricaded, fenced, poisoned, and covered the land. It makes me think of the difficulties encountered by wildlife just trying to get to a spring, a waterhole, a rabbit hole, wherever they happen to be going.  It speaks of the necessity, and the urgency, of  the wildlife corridor approach to land management.  Gilbert's Physiocatrographies are beautiful and engaging.  They make you think.

Juxtaposing Gilbert’s art with Cardona’s, I began to wonder if the dots-and-lines/geometric shapes way of making map art is a man-thing and the more organic designs, like Cardona’s and mine, are a woman-thing. I am probably on pretty shaky ground here, so I will stop, and retreat into my studio.

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