Influenced by the organization inherent in cartography, the twelve Brooklyn-based artists in BAC Gallery’s latest exhibition, Creative Cartographies, present viewpoints both personal and political, mapping their own thoughts, journeys, and observations. Collectively, the artists show that structure and expression are not mutually exclusive and utilize a variety of materials to create imagined and real geographies. Maps traditionally suggest stability and a sense of purpose; they originally served to chart new territories and make the unknown less intimidating. In the age of Google maps and GPS, art inspired by maps continues to aid the viewer in navigating unfamiliar territory, but it also veers from the scientific and factual to the creative and subjective.
Caitlin Masley, Lucas Monaco, and Katherine Gressel depict architectural maps in their work, presenting a subtle critique of contemporary urban areas and suburban sprawl. Using ink and silver on paper, Masley represents housing projects pared down to their essential geometry. Like Masley, Monaco uses ink on paper, in this case to depict the sprawl of suburban development. Gressel’s Takeoff (2008), a collage view from out an airplane window, is also a commentary on the pervasiveness of suburbia.
Ben Pinder, Rebecca Riley, and Gina Dawson use actual maps as the basis for their social critique. Pinder’s watercolor map, City State of America and Surrounding Lands (2008), pokes fun at the United States’ view of itself as a peaceful country surrounded by chaos and terror. Riley’s Baghdad (2007) uses a map of Baghdad as the basis for a painting, illustrating the range of various missiles as well as the locations of U.S. air bases. Dawson’s recreation of a Hollywood celebrity map took over a year to hand stitch. By its completion, the map was inaccurate, emphasizing the transience of celebrity and its ultimate irrelevance.
Rachelle Cohen and Jie Qi interpret data in their works to create abstract maps. Cohen’s A New Eden? (2008) contains a map of all the “greenest countries” according to Reader’s Digest, combined to form an abstract utopian land. Jie Qi’s Where’d You Get Those Blue Eyes (2008) literally maps the origin of blue eyes, showing the sequence of the gene carrying blue eyes in a spiral form.
Natalia Szostak, Samantha Fox, and Katarina Jerinic delve into the personal, mapping memory and community. Szostak’s Place Conundrum (2008) is composed of photographs stitched together of the four places the artist has lived. Fox’s photographic series explores her own journey through a foreign city guided by photographs of pre-war Berlin taken by Roman Vishniac. Jerinic’s project seeks to identify contemporary “monuments” around Brooklyn, drawing attention to often overlooked details. Meirav Leshem’s aerial photographs of lakes in northern California show the inherent map-like structures that emerge from natural formations.