Maps help us find our way in the world (or make us even more lost), but the concept of a map can also be applied when trying to organize together memories, identity, narrative and materiality.
Artist Lindsey Dunnagan explores the mapping of memories and identity in her series Mapping the Intangible, while in Mapping New Worlds, the artist focuses on manipulating topography, hinting at familiar places, but distorted in a way that the familiar becomes alien.
The materiality of Dunnagan’s work in Mapping the Intangible is significant because the watercolour is mixed with salt, allowing unexpected patterns to form, as if creating city limits, but also transform over time as the salt dries and flakes off. The artist focuses on locations that are familiar and important to her memories and identity, yet unrecognizable to the viewer because the maps juxtapose on one another, creating “false connections”, rather serving, as the artist states, “as an atlas of memory that informs identity”. The same kind of atlas, albeit abstract, can be found in Mapping New Worlds but rather than focusing just on identity and memory, the pieces in this series focus on “concepts of city development, communication, and abstracted” landscape. Familiar images such as cities and roads are obstructed by rivers or clouds, creating an almost mythological narrative of the geography.
Similar to Dunnagan’s work, is that of Scott W. Bradford’s, but rather than mapping out specific locations which focus on geography, Bradford pieces together various elements which map out a narrative through materiality. The artist states that he links “the materiality of the surface to the drawing itself, either metaphorically or in terms of the narrative” in order to emphasize that it is constructed; his maps are fiction. In both his series’ Blueshift and Journey to Nowhere, stories are being told.
Each piece maps out its own narrative, but when the series is presented as a whole, the works become a collection of stories, mapping out an overall narrative of materiality.