18 September 2006
The Magic of Maps
"United Shapes of America," a painting by Kim Dingle based on shapes created by American students when asked to draw the outline of their country
We human beings are always making maps. It's not just those drawings that we scribble on the backs of envelopes to show a new friend how to find our house, but in our own minds, in our own ideas about who we are and where we belong, we make maps. We carry mental maps of our neighborhoods, of our city, of our country. And not only places, but we even carry mental maps of things like our circle of friends and how they overlap, maps of our own personal histories and timelines, maps of our inner feelings, our sense of our bodies.
One of my favorite books about maps is You Are Here by Katherine Harmon, published by Princeton Architectural Press. Subtitled "Personal Geographies and Other Maps of the Imagination," the book is a wide-ranging collection of inventive maps of all sorts, maps of places both real and imagined.
My newest print, a map of The Cradle of Civilization, begins with the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. I used a brush and some Sumi ink to draw the lines: