24 January 2008
Paula Scher's Maps
Map lover that I am, I'm absolutely enthralled with the maps of graphic designer Paula Scher. Well known for her typographic work at Pentagram, where she is a partner, Scher is also becoming well known for her large scale maps, painted painstakingly in acrylic on canvas. The Maya Stendhal Gallery in NY has been hosting an exhibit of Scher's most recent maps, which depict countries and cities from all over the world that have been a focus of attention in recent headlines.
Covered with dense hand-painted labeling and information, the maps are informed by information gleaned from the media. One of the things I find so compelling about them is that they end up appearing both accurate and inaccurate. The level of detail makes the maps seem like they must be accurate, but the choices of color and wandering border outlines that belie Scher's technique of drawing by eye give the maps an emotional and subjective quality. “They’re all wrong,” Scher says. “I mean, nothing’s in the right spot. I put in what I feel like. It’s my comment on information in general. We receive a lot of information all the time and mostly it’s lies or slight mistruths.”
Scher also reveals that each map can take as long as 6 months to create, a fact that I find reassuring as I struggle with my reaction to the laborious nature of the woodblock maps I've been creating. The exhibit ends in two days, on January 27.