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:


Anonymous said...

As a professional cartographer and occasional printer, I can't wait to see your progress!

Kris Shanks said...

This reminds me of the research that shows even very young babies have an inate sense of geometry, an ability to locate themselves in space. I think I need to track down the book you cite, sounds very interesting!

DustyTrails said...

There is .. so much history here .. and to think U.S. marines used backhoes to dig latrines ..

To the N.W. .. on the plains of Arbella .. a young Alexander the Great fought King Darius III and defeated him .. and the Ishtar Gates were thrown open for him.

Running into the tent of the King .. Alexander found his Mother Sissy Gambus with a dagger to her chest. He promised neither he nor any of his men would ever harm her and they became fast friends for about then years.

Fighting through the Hindu Kush and down to the shore .. long walk home with an arrow in his chest .. and coming up the Tigris to home .. filth got in his wound and as he lay dying in the palace .. the richest sword fight in history took place amongst his generals. At stake was Rome and Egypt and the lesser Eastern regions.

And Sissy Gambus slipped off to the side and killed herself.